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Illustrations and Biographical Sketches 





Prof. y^. -W. OL^YTOIST. 

:^^W ^/vASHW^E^^' 

J. W. LEWIS & CO. 

18 8 0. 


~n a 



The History of Davidson County comprised in the present volume has been compiled 
under the supervision of the Tennessee Historical Society. All the care and labor com- 
patible with the limited time allowed for its preparation have been bestowed upon the 
work, and we trust it may be found as full and accurate as could reasonably be expected 
under the circumstances. 

The interest and thoroughness of the history have been enhanced by the labors of 
several members of the Historical Society, who have materially aided the compiler both in 
the collection of matter and in the preparation of portions of the manuscrij)t. The services 
of Anson Nelson, Esq., Secretary of the Society, and of Dr. E. L. Drake, of Nashville, 
should be especially acknowledged in this connection. The latter furnished the Military 
History of the County, embracing several chapters of the pioneer wars, the Creek and Semi- 
nole campaigns, the war of 1812-14, the Mexican war, and the great Civil war of 1861-05. 

The plan of the work will be readily perceived by the intelligent reader. It consists 
of four departments, — firet, a General History, or that which is common to the county at 
large; second, the History of the City of Nashville, including its press, its commercial and 
manufacturing interests, and its institutions ; third, the history of the Civil Districts ; and 
fourth, the Biographical Department. The whole is carefully indexed to facilitate reference. 

It should be said in this connection that many biographies of persons especially 
historic are scattered through the text of the general history, or interwoven with it in their 
appropriate places. The same is true of the history of some institutions with which the men 
whose lives are given were intimately identified. With this exception the biographies are 
placed in the de^Dartment devoted to that subject. The arrangement, upon the whole, has 
apjDeai'ed the best that could be devised, and we trust it will be satisfactory to all concerned. 

The Civil Districts, as they appear in a department by themselves, occupy compara- 
tively small space. This is owing to the fact that much matter relating to them has been 
necessarily placed in the General History. For example, the early history of the districts 
is given in the chapter on the organization of the county ; in the chapter on Courts will 
be found a list of the justices of the peace and judges of the county court appointed or 
elected in each district from the organization of the county to 1880 ; also in the Eccle- 
siastical History and in the chapter on Public Schools are given the history and statistics 
of the churches and schools throughout the county. In addition to this, much of the 
matter belonging to the districts, being of a personal nature, has been placed in the 
Biographical Department. 

It is hoped that, the work will be acceptable to its patrons and prove a valuable con- 
tribution to the local history of a very important section of the country. 

w. w. c. 

PiiiLAUELPHiA, September, 1880. 


5 -_ ' 


At a meeting of the Tennessee Historical Society, held in Nashville, June 15, 1880, 
the Secretary, Anson Nelson, Esq., introduced the following declaration of approval of the 
manuscript of this history, which, after- discussion, was adopted, and a copy of the declara- 
tion ordered sent to the publishers : 

" Some weeks ago the publishers of the History of Davidson County announced to the Society that the manuscript 
was complete and ready for the inspection of the committees heretofore appointed, or for the inspection of any member 
who might be interested in looking over the manuscript. The chairman of the Committee on Military History expressed 
at a former meeting his satisfaction with that part of the work. The Committee on Civil History make a =imilar report 
to-day on the department assigned to it for inspection. Individual members of the Society have looked over different 
portions of the manuscript, and though the entire history has, of course, been read by no one person, the general con- 
currence of sentiment authorizes a just inference as to the character of the work. This volume is intended to embrace 
besides a history in the general sense of the term, local statistics, facts connected with our public institutions, colleges, 
'"■•adGiaies, names of all persons who have held official positions, etc., forming a body of matter of great interest to the 
people ; and from the industry which was exhibited by the publishers in getting this information it is our opinion the 
compilation will be well and carefully made. 

" The literary editor, Prof Clayton, labored earnestly and zealously to gather facts for the general history, and we 
think that he has faithfully performed his work, and that under his supervision a work of much merit and interest will be 
furnished, coming up to the standard which was promised by the publishers. Perfection in matter and manner, accuracy 
to a point beyond all criticism, cannot be predicated of any work which ever has been or will be printed ; but we take 
pleasure in stating that we believe the history will be as free from errors as it could be made, the subjects being so various 
and dev'ous, and that the publishers have succeeded in accomplishing what they undertook and promised to their 

" With the biographical department the Society has nothing to do. These parts of the volume are to be printed in 
a different type, are not to be paged with the other leaves, may be passed over in the reading, and are easily distinguished 
from and constitute no part of the context of the public history. 

" The secretary is authorized to send a copy of this declaration of approval to said publishers." 




































— Progress of Discovery and Settlements ... 9 

— Henderson's Treaty ....... 14 

,The Indians Ifi- 

, — Permanent Settlement 19 

— Perils and Hardships of the Pioneers ... 24 

, — Pioneer Life and Customs 27 

, — Movements against the Indians .... 29 

, — Government of the Notables ..... .S2 

— Period of the Revolution . . . . .39 

—Organization of the County 44 

— Physical Features 46 

— Indian AVars " . 52 

Treaty of Hopewell 56 

—The Coldwater Expedition, June, 1787 ... 56 

, — Uenewed Hostilities, 1792 ..... 65 

Trouble of 1794 68 

Recollections of Col. Willoughby Williams . . 72 

—The War of 1812-14 77 

. — Seminole Wars 83 

—Courts . . .87 

— Bench and Bar 96 

, — Bench and Bar (continued) 112 

— Gen. James Robertson 126 

, — Col. John Donelson 1.S4 

, — Gen. Andrew Jackson 137 

— Public Life and Character of Jackson . . . 150 

—James K. Polk 159 - 

—Gen. Sam Houston . . ' 162 

,— Mexican War, 1846-47 164 

—The Great Civil AVar 168 

— Companies in the First Tennessee and other Regi- 
ments and Batteries . . . . . .170 

— Military Operations in 1861-66 .... 177 

— Military Rosters 180 


Topography 193 

Original Occupation 194 

First American Settlers . . . . . . . .195 

Erection of the Town of Nashville 195 

Mercantile Firms . . 197 

Recollections of Nashville 199 

Men of Nashville at an Early Day 2112 

Progress of the City . . . X . . . . . ?M 

Railroads . . . 213 

Commerce and Manufactures . 217 

Banks 228 

Press of Nashville . . .229 

War Publications 241' 

Educational Institutions 246 

Public Schools of Nashville 249 ' 

University of Nashville 263 

State Normal College 257 

Vanderbilt University 259 

Fisk University 260 

Nashville Normal and Theological Institnte .... 263 

Central Tennessee College 263 

Tennessee School for the Blind 266 

Nashville Female Academy 266 

Medical Profession ......... 271 

Brief Memoirs of Medical Men 280 

Dental Association . . ' 2S6 

Medical Colleges 287 

Nashville Board of Health 294 

Tennessee Historical Society 300 

Tennessee Hospital for the Insane 304 

United States Custom-House 307 

Ecclesiastical History . . . . . . . .312 

TouDg Men's Christian Association 343 

Cemeteries of Nashville 344 

Nashville Centennial 348 

Masons and Odd-Fellows 364 

Civil Districts of Davidson Countv 367 



Anderson, William E. Ill 

Ament, Samuel P facing 3,32 

Adams, A. G 415 

Adams, Nathan 417 

Benton, Thomas H 100 

Bell, Hon. John .112 

Brown, Hon. Aaron V. ....... . 118 

Brown, William L 120 

Bass, John M 120 

Brown, William T 120 

Brown, Morgan W 120 

Brown, Hon. Neill S 125 

Bell, James T facing 244 

Bowen, Jeremiah 
BurnSj M. . 
Baxter, Hon. Nath.aniel 
Briggs, Willi,am T. • 
Burch, Col. John C. . 
Bowling, William .K., M.D 
Berry, W. W. . 
Branaford, Col. Thomas L. 
Bransford, Maj. John S. 
Bennett, H. S. . 
Brown, John Lucian . 
Burr, Andrew E. 
Byrne, P. . 





Braden, John *''" 

Brown, Aris ^''2 

Banks, Dr. David F *80 

Bondurant, Maj. Jacob M ^82 

Butterworth, John . . . . . . between 484, 435 

Bowers, John C " ^84, 485 

Catron, Hon. John 108 

Crabb, Hon. Henry 1"9 

Claiborne, Hon. Thomas HO 

Craighead, David H" 

— Campbell, George W HI 

■ Campbell, David . . 120 

Cooper, Hon. W. F. . . .122 

Clark, W. M * facing 245 

Campbell, Michael "267 

Cole, Edmund W 379 

Carter, Dr. W. J 432 

Cravath, Erastus M 439 

Chase, Frederick A 444 

Compton Fiunily, The 443 

Compton, Felix facing 443 

^Cheatham, Archer 453 

: Cobb, Dr. S. J 469 

, Cobler, Capt. Calvin G 469 

Combs, M.S 476 

■ Cbilton, James .\ 478- 

i^ Dickinson, John 107 

, Darby, Patrick H 109 

' Dismukes, William M facing 314 

Donelson, Daniel .S. . ." 396 

,Dake,.T!ibez P., A.M., M.D 435 

Donelson, Hon. .\. J, ........ 479 

DodsoD, Timothy -^82 

EwiDg,^Hon. Andrew ......... 120 

Ewiug, Hon. Edwin H., LL.D 121 

Enloo, T. E., M.D facing 297 

Eastman, E. G .385 

East, Hon. Edward H 305 

Edmiston, Maj. William 475 

Earthman, Felix G between 484, 485 

Fletcher, Thomas H 109 

Foster, Hon. Ephraim H 113 

' Fogg, Hon. Francis Brinley 115 

' Fite, L. B 432 

Fisk, Gen. Clinton B. . 438 

Fanning, Tolbert . . 452 

^ Frazier, Thomas N 459 

" Grundy, Hon. Felix 100 

, Gibbs, Gen. George W 108 

^ Gowdey, Thomas facing 364 

1 Greer, Col. James L between 372, 373 

. /Green, Alexander L. P., D.D -385 

•iGuild, Judge J. C 392 

; Gaut, John C. 448 

Gillem, Gen. Alvan C 460 

Grinetead, Dr. A. P 471 

Gannaway, John E 477 

HortOD, Joseph W facing 224 

I Haywood, Hon. John 102 

. Houston, Gen. Samuel 110 

~^ayes, Andrew C Ill" 

Hollingsworlh, Henry . 119 

Howington, J. W between 484, 485 

Hooten, W. R facing 479 

Hows, John between 428, 429 

Herrin, Thomas facing 371 

Hudson, W. B between 4S0, 481 

TSutton, William C. ' " 48'!, 485 


Harris, J. George 377 

Heiss, Maj. Henry 409 

Harding, John 412 

Harding, Gen. W. G 419 

Harding, John 429 

Hill, John M 450 

Hayes, Oliver B. . 451 

Iladley, John L. ......... 461 

Hooper, H. V. . . : 466 

Uarwood, James A 467 

Hurley, A. H., Sr 468 

Hamilton, William A 472 

Hughes, Capt. David 474 

•Johnson, James . . . . . . . between 372, 373 

.Jackson, W. H. . . ' 416 

Johnson, Col. A. W ^. _ . 427 

Jones, T. H '*'. ' . 473 

.Jackson, A 477 

Jordan, Dr. J. H between 484, 485 

King, Thomas S 383 

Lea, John M 302 

Lovell, William H between 484, 485 

Lindsley, Philip . 388 

Lindsley, Van S 403 

Lindsley, John B., 404 

Linton, Silas 483 

Meigs, Return J 120 

Mcintosh, Frank M between 484, 485 

Maxey, V.W facing 325 

McFerrin, Rev. John B. . 386 

Menees, Dr. Thomas . _397 

Maddin, Dr. Thomas L. . . "399 

Morgan, Dr. W. H 409 

McGavock, David 425 

McGavock, Francis . 426 

McGavock, David H 431 

Morgan, Helen C 442 

McMurray, William J 457 

Mayo, Jacob M between 484, 485 

Nichol, W facing 199 

Nelson, Anson 303 

Nance, Hon, C. W facing 346 

Nelson, George A. between 374, 375 

Nelson, George T . 481 

Overton, Hon. John 98 

O'Neil, Henry W 477 

Peyton, Bailey .119 

PatterFon, Dr. Everand Meade facing 181 

Phillips, Daniel W " 263 

, P'Pool, E. F., M.D "318 

Philips, William D .413 

Phillips, Capt. W . .418 

Paul, Isaac 456 

Piunket, Dr. James Dace 464 

Pennington, J. W. . . . . . . between 484, 485 

Rucks, Hon. James 110 

Russell, R facing 308 

Rains, F. R 462 

Stuart, Thomas 99 

Shaw, Henry B 120 

Smiley, Gen. Thomas T 125 

Seay, Samuel facing 208 

Shankland, A. B "317 

Smith, J. M between 4§2, 483 

Stockell, William 405 

Sheffield, Henry, M.D 436 

Sharp, J. M. ; . 437 

Spencc, Adam K 440 




Scruggs, Theophilus 


Thompson, John 



Trimble, Hon. James . 



Trimble, Hon. John . 


Tucker, N. G. . 



Truett, E. . 



Tumble, Peter 



Vaughan, Johnson 



Vaughn. Hiram . 



WooJall, F.,M. . 



Whyto, Robert . 


Whiteside, Jenkin 


"Washington, Hon. Thomas 


Weakley, Robert 



Williams, Will . 



Williamson, George R. 



Woodward, fi. F. 




Waggoner, B. P between 482, 483 

Williams, Turner facing 370 

Weaver, D. 384 

Wiitkins, Samuel ......... 395 

Williams, Col. Willoughby 414 

Whitworth, James 428 

Wheless, Gen. John F 433 

While, George L 442 

Washington, W. H 453 

Wilson, John Robertson 466 

Wood, E. G 467 

Woodruff, William H 482 

Yerger, George S. . . . 107 

Yerger, J. S 107 

Young, Robert A facing 324 

Yarbrough, James between 374, 375 




Adams, A. G 'between 218, 219 

Adams, Nathan ........ facing 417 

Ament, Samuel P "332 

Baxter, Nathaniel ....... " 91 

Brown, Hon. Neill S. ...-.,. . " 124 

Burns, M. . "216 

Bur'ch, John C "240 

Bell, James T "244 

Bennett, H. S "2.62 

Braden, James "204 

Bowling, W. K., M.D "288 

Briggs, W. T., M.D "292 

Brown, John Lucian ....... " 362 

Boweu, Jeremiah, and Wife " 368 

Berry, W. W between 218, 219 • 

Bransford, Thomas L. facing 430 

Burr, A. E "455 

Byrne, P between 466, 467 

Brown, Aris facing 472 

Banks, Dr. David F 480 

Boudurant, J. M between 482, 483 

Butterworth, John, and Wife .... " 484, 485 

Bowers, John C, and Wife .... " 484, 485 

Campbell, W. B facing 166 

Cheatham, Archer " 204 

Cole, E. W "217 

Clark, William M "245 

Cravath, E. M "262 

Chase, F. A . "262 

Campbell, Michael "267 

Cobb, S.J "285' 

Cockrill, Mark R "424 

Carter, W. J " 432 

Compton, Capt. Henry ..... between 442, 443 

Compton, William " 442, 443 

Compton, Henry W " 442, 443 

Compton, Felix facing 443 

Cabler, C. G "469 

Combs, M. S " 47B 

Chelton, James A 478 

Donelson, A. J. facing 134 

Donelson, D. S "136 

Dake, Dr. J. P " 287 


Dismukes, William M facing 314 

Dodson, Timothy "482 

East, Hon. E. H " 95 

Eve, Paul F "280 

Enloe, T. B., M.D "297 

Eastman, E. G "310 

Edmiston, William " 475 

Earthman, Felix G between 484, 485 

Foster, Hon. Ephraim H "113 

Fogg, Hon. Francis Briuley " 115 

Fanning, T. . - ' "340 

Fisk, Clinton B "260 

Fite, L. B "431 

Prazier, Thomas N., and Wife "459 

Grundy, Hon. Feli,T "100 

Guild, Judge Josephus C. ..... . " 125 

Gillem, A. C "178 

Green, A. L. P " 329 

Gowdey, Thomas "364 

Greer, Col. James L between 372, 373 

Gaut, John C facing 448 

Grinstoad, Dr. A. P " 471 

Gannaway, Ed " 477 

Horton, Joseph W "224 

Harris, J. George "239 

Heiss, Henry "241 

Howington, J. W., and Wife .... between 484, 485 

Huoten, W. R. . . ' .- facing 479 

Hows, John between 428, 429 

Harwood, James A., and Wife facing 372 

Herrin, Thomas "371 

Hudson, W. B., and Wife between 480, 481 

Button, W. C, and Wife « 484, 485 

Harding, John facing 412 

Harding, W. G "419 

Harding, John "429 

Hill, John M "450 

Hayes, 0. B "451 

Hadley, John L "461 

Hooper, H. V "466 

Hurley, Sr., A. H "468 

Hamilton, W. A between 472, 473 

Hughes, David facing 474 

Jackson, Gen. Andrew " 138 




Johnson, James between 372, 373 

Jackson, W.H filing 416 

Johnson, A. W "427 

Jones, T.H " *^^ 

Jackson, A. ...■••• • " *'° 

Jordan, Dr. J. H., and Wife .... between 484, 4So 

Linton, Silas, and Wife facing 483 

Linton, W. J., and Wife "483 

Lindsley, Philip " 255 

Lindsley, J. Berrien, M.D "289 

Lindsley, Van S., M.D "294 

Lea, Hon. John M " 302 

Lovell, W. H., and Wife between 484, 485 

Mayo, Jacob M., and Wife " 484,435 

MoGavock, D facing 197 

McGavoek, F ■ "200 

McGavock, D. H • between 202, 203 

McFerrin, John B facing 242 

Morgan, Helen C "262 

Morgan, Dr. William H " 286 

Menees, Thomas, M.D "291 

Mfiddin, Thomas L "293 

Mcintosh, Frank M • . between 484, 485 

Maxey, P. W. facing 325 

MoMurray, W. J " 457 

Nichol, William "199 

Nelson, Anson " 303 

Nance, Hon. Clement W " 346 

Nelson, George A between 374, 375 

Nelson, George T 481 

O'Neil, By. W 477 

Overton, Hon. John facing 98 

Polk, James K. "160 

Patterson, Dr. Everand Meade " 181 

Phillips, William between 218, 219 

Phillips, Daniel W facing 263 

Plunket, J. D "279 

P'Pool, E. F., M.D "318 

Pennington, J. W between 484, 485 

Philips, William D facing 413 

Paul, Isaac 456 

Robertson, Gen. James facing 126 

Russell, R. "308 

Rains, F. K "402 

Seay, Samuel " 208 

Stockell, William "212 

Smith, J. M between 482, 483 

Spencc, A. K facing 202 

Sheffield, Henry, M.D " 4.-.6 

Shankland, A. B " 317 

Sharp, X M " 4S7 

Thompson, John • " (.9 

Tucker, N. G " 2H5 

Tmett, E "322 

Tamble, Peter, and Wife " 444 

Vaughan, Johnson " 371 

Vaughn, Hiram "463 

Williams, Co). Willoughby "72 

Woodall, F. M - . . " 446 

Weakley, Robert "206 

WilUams, Will "2*8 


White, George L. facing 261 

Williamson, George R. ..... . " 338 

Wood, B. G between 466, 467 

Woodruff, William H ,482 

Woodward, B. F., and Wife facing 347 

Waggoner, B. F., and Wife N . . . . between 482, 483 
Williams, Turner . . . . . . . facing 370 

Weaver, D between 228, 229 

Watkins, Samuel facing 220 

Whitworth, James "428 

Whelcss, Gen. John F "433 

Washington, W. H " 453 

Young, Robert A "324 

Yarbrough, James between 374, 37,5 


Bransford, Maj. John S., Residence . 
Capitol of Tennessee .... 

Cheatham, Mrs. Archer, Residence . 
College, Central Tennessee 
Church of the Holy Trinity 
Centennial Exposition Building 
Coropton, Henry W., Residence 
Compton, Henry, Residence 
Davidson County, Geographical Map of 
Davidson County, Pioneer Map of 
Green, Capt. Frank, Residence 
Hermitage ...... 

Hows, John, Residence 
Harwood, James A., Residence . 
Harding, W. G., Views at Belle Meade 
Hudson, W. B., Residence 
/' Hudson, Mrs. N. B., Residence . 
Institute, Nashville .... 

Jackson, Fac-Simile Letter 

Jackson, Gen. Andrew, Equestrian Statue 

McGavock's Map .... 

MoGavock, D. H., Residence 
Manufactory, — Prewitt, Spurr & Co. . 

" Southern Pump Company 

Nashville, Map of Battle-field . 

" in 1804 .... 

" Female Academy 
O'Neil, Henry W., Residence 
Overton, Mrs. M. H., Residence 
Phillips, Capt. William, Residence . 
Philips, William D., Residence . 
Rains, F. R., Residence 
St. Cecilia Academy .... 
Smith, J. M., Residence 
Tennessee, Topographical Map of 

" School for the Blind . 

" Hospital for the Insane . 

Tamble, Peter, Residence . 
University, Vanderbilt 

"■ Fisk Jubilee Hall . 
Vaughn, Hiram, Residence 
Weaver, D., Residence 
Watkins, Samuel, Residence 
Waggoner, B. F., Residence 


between 202, 
" 264, 

between 442, 
" 442, 

between 428, 

between 422, 
" 480, 
" 480, 
" 262, 

between 202, 

between 222, 


between 476, 
" 480, 
" 218, 

between 270, 
" 482, 


between 258, 
" 260, 
. facing 
between 228, 
between 482, 




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Scale of Miles 

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., MAP or 



\^ 6^ 









Formative Period — Primitive Condition of the Country — First Ex- 
plorers — Discovery of Cumberland River and Gap — First Forts in 
Tennessee — Absence of Indian Settlements — First Permanent Set- 
tlement at Watauga — Spirit and Character of the First Settlers — 
Wake County, North Carolina — The Regulators — Meolclenburgh 
Resolves — Capt. James Robertson — Government established at 

The first period of the history of Davidson County is 
that which may be termed its formative period, beginning 
with the first distinctive shaping of those events which led 
to its settlement, and closing with its organization as a civil 
division of North Carolina in the year 1783. It will be 
seen that this division of our subject will carry us through 
the first stages of discovery and settlement west of the Al- 
leghany Mountains, and through the period of the Revolu- 
tion, down to the treaty of peace between the thirteen origi- 
nal States and Great Britain, which was ratified the same 
year that Davidson County was organized. 

In order to see the earliest, and to some extent the most 
interesting, phase of the country about which we propose to 
write we must fall in with the current of population ad- 
vancing westward and trace its gradual swell and progress 
until at length its first wave breaks over the crest of the \ 
Appalachian Range and falls into the valleys below. All that 
magnificent country lying to the westward of this great 
mountain-chain, embracing Tennessee and Kentucky, was a 
vast hunting-ground for various Indian tribes, within which 
a few Anglo-American hunters, clad in buckskin "breeches, 
leggins, and moccasins, with their rifles and powder-horns 
slung upon their shoulders, had begun to dispute with the 
aborigines the exclusive monopoly of the finest game-park 
on the continent. We cannot well conceive at the present 
day the interest which this fine country, abounding with 
magnificent forests and streams and stocked to repletion 
with herds of the noblest wild animals, must have awakened 
in the minds of the primitive explorers who first penetrated 
beyond the great mountain-range which for more than a 
century had shut in the view of the dwellers upon the more 
barren and sterile Atlantic slope. It was like the vision of 
a new world, greater far in extent and more beautiful than 
anything of which they had ever conceived; but of the 

country itself little was positively known. A wandering 
Indian would imperfectly delineate upon the sand a feeble 
outline of its more prominent physical features. A voyage 
in a canoe from the sources of the Hogohegee* to the Wa- 
bash| required for its performance, in their figurative lan- 
guage, " two paddles, two warriors, three moons." The 
Ohio itself was but the tributary of a still larger river, of 
whose source, size, and direction no intelligible account 
could be communicated. The Mussel Shoals and the ob- 
structions in the river above them were magnified into 
mighty cataracts and fearful whirlpools, and the Suck was 
represented as an awful vortex. The wild beasts with 
which the illimitable forests abounded were numbered by 
pointing to the leaves upon the trees or the stars in a 
cloudless sky. 

These vague and uncertain intimations were soon supple- 
mented by more definite information coming through 
traders who penetrated to the Indian countries of the 
Southwest. The first of these was Cornelius Dogherty, a 
trader from Virginia, who established himself at the Mid- 
dle Settlement of the Cherokees, on the Little Tennessee, 
as early as 1690. He sent furs and peltry by Indian pack- 
men to Charleston, who returned packed with merchandise, 
which the natives received in exchange. Other traders 
followed, and in 1 740 a regular route of communication for 
pack-horses and agents was opened along the Great Path 
from Virginia to the centre of the Cherokee Nation. The 
last hunter's cabin at that time was on the Otter River, 
now in Bedford Co., Va. The traders and packmen gen- 
erally confined themselves to the Great Path till it crossed 
the Little Tennessee ; then spreading themselves out among 
the several Cherokee villages, they continued their trafiBic as 
far^ down the Great Tennessee as the Indian settlement 
upon Bear Creek. The commerce with the natives was 
profitable, and not only attracted many traders but others, 
who pursued trapping and liunting independently of the 

Among these early adventurers were some men of con- 
siderable note. Dr. Thomas Walker, of Virginia, in com- 
pany with Cols. Wood, Patton, and Buchanan, Capt. 
Charles Campbell, and a number of hunters, passed Pow- 

* Holston. 

f The Ohio was known many years by that name. 



ell's Valley in 1748, and gave the name of Cumberland to 
the lofty range of mountains on the west. Tracing this 
range in a southwestern direction. Dr. Walker and his 
party came to the remarkable depression in the chain to 
which they gave the name of Cumberland Gap. Through 
that gap flowed the tide of emigration from the East to the 
West ibr more than half a century. On the western side 
they discovered the beautiful mountain-stream which they 
called the Cumberland River.* 

Two forts were built in what is now Tennessee during 
the French war, viz.. Fort Loudon, on the Tennessee, in 
1756, and the Long Island fort, on the Holston, in 1758. 
The former was destroyed in 1760. When it was erected it 
was one hundred and fifty miles in advance of any settlement, 
the most western settlement at that time being composed of 
sis families on the western side of New River. During 
the French war the Indians attacked these settlers, murder- 
ing Burke and his Aimily, and compelling the others to fly 
for safety to the eastern side of the river. No attempt was 
made to carry the white settlements farther west till the 
close of the war. 

In 1760 the Cherokees were at peace with the whites, 
and hunters began to renew their explorations. In this 
year Dr. Walker made a tour of inspection in what is now 
Kentucky, and Daniel Boone left his famous inscription on 
a beech-tree in the valley of Boone's Creek, a tributary of 
the Watauga, commemorating his deed of prowess in having 
tliere " cilled a bar" that year. In 1761 he came at the 
head of one of the companies from Virginia and North 
Carolina who settled in Carter's Valley, in what is now 
Hawkins Co., Tenn. Boone himself was from the Yadkin, 
in North Carolina, and, according to Haywood, traveled 
with the company he was guiding as far down as where 
Abingdon now stands, and there left them. This famous 
pioneer of civilization continued in his work of guiding 
settlers into new counties still farther westward till he 
reached the St. Charles district in Missouri, where he died 
in 1820. In 1762, Wallen and his company passed down 
the south fork of the Holston, having crossed the Blue 
Ridge at Flower Gap, New River at Jones' Ford, and 
the Iron Mountain at the Blue Spring. They fixed their 
•station camp near the Tennessee line, and on the present 
road from Jonesborough to Rogersville. Some of the com- 
pany descended to Greasy Rock Creek, and fixed their 
camp near the present line between Hawkins and Clai- 
bourne Counties. The next year Wallen and his party 
passed through Cumberland Gap, and hunted during the 
wliole season on the Cumberland River. 

In 1764, Dan' '. Boone, still living on the Yadkin, set 
out, in the employ of the Transylvania Companj^, to exploi'e 
portions of the -^reat country now included in Kentucky 
and Tennessee. With him came Samuel Callaway, his 
• kinsman and the ancestor of the respectable family of that 
name who were pioneers of Kentucky, Tennessee, and 
Missouri. Callaway was at the side of Boone when, ap- 
proaching the spurs of the Cumberland Mountain and in 
view of the vast herds of buffalo grazing in the valleys be- 
tween them, he exclaimed, " I am richer than the man 

*■ These nnincs were given in honor of the DuUe of CumberlanJ. 

mentioned in Scripture, who owned the cattle on a thou- 
sand hills ; I own the wild beasts of more than a thousand 
valleys." During the following year Henry Scaggins, who 
was also employed by Col. Richard Henderson, of the Tran- 
sylvania Company, extended his explorations to the lower 
Cumberland, and fixed his station at Mansker's Lick. 

" About the last of June, 1766, Col. James Smith setoff 
to explore the great body of rich lands which, by convers- 
ing with the Indians, he understood to be between the Ohio 
and Cherokee Rivers, and lately ceded by a treaty made with 
Sir William Johnson to the king of Great Britain. He 
went, in the first place, to Holston River, and thence trav- 
eled westwardly in company with Joshua Horton, Uriah 
Stone, and William Baker, who came from Carlisle, Pa. — 
four in all — and a slave, aged eighteen, belonging to Hor- 
ton. They explored the country •south of Kentucky, and 
no vestige of a white man was to be found there, more 
than there is now at the head of the Missouri. They also 
explored Cumberland and Tennessee Rivers from Stone's 
River down to the Ohio. Stone's River is a branch of 
Cumberland, and empties into it eight or ten miles above 
Nashville. It was so named in the journal, of these ex- 
plorers after Mr. Stone, one of their number, and has ever 
since retained the name. Wlien they came to the mouth 
of Tennessee Col. Smith concluded to return home, and the 
others to proceed to the Illinois. They gave to Col. Smith 
the greater part of their powder and lead, amounting only to 
half a pound of the former and a proportionate quantity of 
lead. Mr. Horton also left with him his slave, and Smith 
set off with him through the wilderness to Carolina. Near 
a buffalo-path they made them a shelter ; but fearing the 
Indians might pass that way and discover his fireplace he 
removed to a greater distance from it. After remaining 
there six weeks he proceeded on his journey, and arrived 
in Carolina in October. He thence traveled to Fort Ciiis- 
sel, and from there returned home to Coneco-Cheague, in 
the fnll of 1767."t 

This exploration of Col. Smith was, with the exception 
of Scaggins', the first that had been made of the country 
west of Cumberland Mountain in Tennessee by any of 
the Anglo-American race. The extraordinary fertility of 
the soil upon the Lower Cumberland, the luxuriant cane- 
brakes upon the table-lands of its tributaries, its dark and 
variegated forest, its rich flora, its exuberant pasturage, 
in a word, the exact adaptation of the country to all the 
wants and purposes of a great and flourishing community, 
impressed the explorer with the importance of his discovery, 
and of its great value to such of his countrymen as should 
afterwards come in and possess it. Not strange was it that 
the recital of what he had seen during his long and perilous 
absence should excite in Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, and 
Pennsylvania, as he passed homeward, an urgent and irre- 
pressible desire to emigrate to and settle this El Dorado 
of the West.J 

During the year 1767, John Findley, a fearless Indian 
trader from North Carolina, accompanied by several asso- 
ciates, made an excursion into the new country now ex- 
citing so much interest in the Eastern settlements. They 

f Ila^-woocl. 

f Anniils of Tennessee, p. 70. 



passed tlirough upper East Tennessee to Cumberland Gap, 
and thence continued their explorations to the Kentucky 
River. The spirit of adventure had now become almost a 
mania, numbering among its subjects nearly every bold and 
fearless backwoodsman. Companies of these varying in 
numbers from two to forty accumulated in rapid succession 
upon the border settlements from the Monongahela to the 
Savannah, and excited in the minds of the more discreet 
and sagacious settlers apprehensions of renewed hostilities 
from the now friendly Indians. These apprehensions were 
not without foundation. By the opening of the spring of 
1768 the savages along the whole line of the western 
frontier, from the sources of the Savannah to those of the 
Tennessee, had become exasperated and united in their de- 
termination to check further encroachments upon their ter- 
ritory. None of these Indians were residing at tliis time 
in the territory of Kentucky or Tennessee, nor had any of 
tliem a rightful claim to a foot of it, save as a common 
hunting-ground. The exploring and hunting parties dis- 
covered no signs of Indian occupation. 

" But in their frequent peregrinations and trading expedi- 
tions through the vast territories between the Ohio and the 
Tennessee Rivers the first traders, hunters, and explorers 
never found, within that extent of country, a single wig- 
wam or modern Indian village. The Indian settlements 
nearest to the frontier borders of the Carolinas, and of 
Southwestern Virginia, were on the Scioto and Miami in 
the North, and on the waters of the Little Tennessee in the 
South. From these points the various war or hunting 
parties issued to engage in the one or the other pursuit as 
the passions or the opportunities of their expeditions might 
lead. Here the Choctaws, Chickasaws, or Cherokees of 
the South used to engage with the various tribes of the 
Miami Confederacy of the North ; here they indulged their 
passion for hunting in the profusion of game afforded by 
Tennessee and Kentucky. That part of these two States 
embraced within tlie boundaries mentioned was one great 
park, where the skill of the uncivilized hunter was practiced, 
and a central theatre, upon which the desperate conflicts of 
savage warriors and bloody rivals were perpetrated. By 
common agreement of all the surrounding tribes this whole 
section of country seems to have been reserved for these 
purposes from permanent occupancy ; and so much was it 
exempted from settlement, that south of the Ohio and 
north and east of the Tennessee it is not known that a 
single village was settled by the Indians ; yet no situations 
have generally delighted savage tribes so much as the mar- 
gins of water-courses, — the opportunities of navigation and 
of fishing unite to attract them to such spots. Some 
known and acknowledged inhibition must have, therefore, 
prevented the settlement and possession of this great Mes- 
opotamia. What was it ? On this subject tradition and 
history are alike indistinct and unsatisfactory."* 

We think, on the contrary, that quite a clear and satis- 
factory explanation is furnished. It is well known to the 
careful student of history that at the period of which we 
are speaking the whole territory of this neutral hunting- 
ground as far south as the Tennes.see River (called in 

^^ MoucLte. 

ancient treaties the river of the Cherokees) was admitted 
by all other tribes to belong to the confederacy of the Six 
Nations by right of conquest, and that the Six Nations 
inhibited the occupancy of it by any of the surrounding 
tribes except for the purpose of a common hunting-ground. 
This will appear in our Indian history in another chapter. 

After the return of Col. Smith, Isaac Lindsay and four 
others from South Carolina vi.sited the Lower Cumberland. 
Nothing of importance is mentioned in connection with this 
expedition, except that the explorers mot at the mouth of 
Stone's River two other hunters — Stoner and Harrod — who 
were from the Illinois, having descended the Ohio River 
from Pittsburgh. They were informed that the French had 
a station at the bluff where Nashville now stands, and 
another ten or twelve miles above the mouth of the Ten- 

We come now to the period when the first permanent 
settlement was effected in Tennessee. The progress of 
events thus far has shown us only the avant courier of the 
mighty host soon to cross the border and begin the conquest 
of the wilderness, — -a conquest to be carried forward across 
the Western continent till the banner of civilization should 
be planted upon the shores of the Pacific. At this point 
in our progress we can well appreciate the spirit and beauty 
of that passage in Ramsey's "Annals of Tennessee" where 
he sees crowds of immigrants concentrating at the leading 
avenues from the Atlantic to the Western waters, standing 
for a moment impatient of longer restraint and casting a 
wishful look upon the inviting country before them. We 
quote : 

" Tennessee was yet without a single civilized inhabitant. 
We have traced the approaches of the Anglo-American 
population to her eastern boundary. The genius of civil- 
ization, in her progress from the East, had passed the of 
the great Appalachian Range. She stood upon its summit, 
proud of past success, and, ambitious of further and greater 
achievement, surveyed from that height the wide field be- 
fore and around her. On her right are the rich valleys and 
luxuriant plains of Kentucky and Ohio, as yet imperfectly 
known from the obscure report of the returning explorer 
or the Shawnee prisoner. On the left her senses are re- 
galed by the luxuriant groves, the delightful savannas, and 
the enchanting beauties of the sunny South. Far in the 
distance and immediately before her she contemplates the 
Great West. Its vastness at first overwhelms and astounds 
her, but at the extreme limit of her vision American adven- 
ture and Western enterprise are seen beckoning her to move 
forward and to occupy the goodly land. She descends to the 
plains below, and on the prolific soil of the quiet Watauga, 
in the lonely seclusion of one of its ancient forests, is de- 
posited the germ of the future State of Tennessee. In 
that germ were contained all the elements of prospective 
greatness and achievement. What these elements were 
succeeding pages will but feebly develop and illustrate. 
Toil, enterprise, perseverance, and courage had planted 
that germ in a distant wilderness. The circumstances that 
surrounded it required for its growth, culture, and protec- 
tion wisdom, virtue, patriotism, valor, and self-reliance. 
American was to become Western character, and here was 
the place and this the time of its first germination." 



The great impulse given to immigratioD at tliis time was 
caused in a great measure by the result of the treaty of 
Fort Stanwix, in which the Six Nations of New York had 
ceded to the English their acknowledged claim to the coun- 
try between the Ohio and the Tennessee Rivers. This 
treaty was concluded in November, 1768. Dr. Walker, 
the commissioner from Virginia, had returned from Fort 
Stanwix, and brought with him an account of the cession. 
At Hard Labor, also, in October of the same year, the 
Cherokees has given their assent to the further expan- 
sion of the settlements on the Holston ; and in January, 
1769, was formed the nucleus of the first permanent 
settlement of the white race in Tennessee. " It was 
merely an enlargement of the Virginia settlement near it, 
and at the time was believed to be upon the territory of 
that province, the line dividing Virginia from North Ca- 
rolina not having been yet run west of Steep Rock. . . . 
Of those who ventured farthest into the wilderness with 
their families was Capt. William Bean. He came from 
Pittsylvania Co., Va., and settled early in 1769 on Boone's 
Creek, a tributary of Watauga, in advance of Carter and 
others, who soon after settled upon the stream. His son, 
Russell Bean, was the first white child born in what is now 
Tennessee. Capt. Bean had hunted with Boone, knew 
his camp, and selected this as the place of his settlement on 
account of its abundant game. His cabin was not far from 
Watauga. He was an intrepid man, and will be mentioned 
hereafter. Bean's Station was afterwards settled by him." 

As the settlers at Watauga were chiefly from Wake Co., 
N. C, and some of them subsequently bore a conspicuous 
part in the settlements on the Cumberland and in founding 
the city of Nashville, it will be proper to glance briefly at 
their antecedents, to see the character of the social and 
political life out of which they sprang, and the spirit 
which they brought with them to their new homes beyond 
the mountains. In a strictly philosophical history it would 
be necessary to consider the race and blood of a people. 
The first great force in any local or social development is 
character. The question is, What kind of people were the 
movers in it ? From what race did they spring ? Were 
they Turks, Jews, Germans, or Anglo-Saxon? What 
blood flowed in their veins, Irish, Scotch, Welsh, or 
Huguenot ? Were they English Royalists or Puritan Dis- 
senters, Cavaliers or Roundheads? The typical develop- 
ment in all political, ecclesiastical, social, industrial, and 
educational matters is so distinctly marked in each separate 
race that it is an easy matter for the skilled ethnologist to 
trace all these, a posteriori, to the particular nationality 
whence they spring, and to determine, a priori, precisely 
what kind of civilization might naturally be expected from 
the peculiar genius of each people. The tendency in our 
composite state of society is towards the obliteration of all 
these primitive ethnical peculiarities in one homogenous 
American type of character. Still, these distinctions were 
marked during the colonial period of our history, and each 
branch or family of original settlers has left its own peculiar 
impress upon the social organizations and institutions which 
it founded, so that it is more or less visible to the present 

This would be an interesting theme for the philosophical 

historian to discuss, but we lay no claim to such qualifi- 
cations, nor is a history which must deal chiefly with.mere 
local annals the place for it. It is due, however, to the 
noble race of Scotch-Irish patriots, and to the old North 
State whence they came to Eastern and Middle Tennessee, 
that due credit should be given them in a history which 
they contributed so largely to form. 

At the date of our allusion to affairs in North Carolina 
the storm of the Revolution was gathering. Wake and 
Mecklenburg Counties had been settled by Scotch-Irish from 
Pennsylvania and Virginia, who at an early period of the 
colonies had emigrated from the north of Ireland, — a people 
noted throughout all their history for their love of liberty 
and for their readiness and energy in resisting oppression 
in all its forms. From the Covenanters to Carrickfergus, 
the home of the ancestors of Gen. Jackson, and in the' 
whisky riots of Virginia, these people had shown their 
valor and patriotism ; and now another occasion was ofiered 
under the odious administration of Governor Tryon, whose 
rapacity and greed to devour the substance of the people 
were significantly epitomized in the appellation " The Great 
He- Wolf," applied to him in the vigorous parlance of that 
day. The oppressive measures of this Governor, in ex- 
orbitant and unjust taxes and fees imposed without their 
consent and against their oft-repeated remonstrances, led to 
the famous organization of the Regulators, at the head of 
whom was that remarkable man Herman Husbands. 

Husbands published in 1770 his " Impartial Relation," 
the most remarkable book of the period, full of sound 
maxims of political wisdom, and of the most scathing in- 
vectives against tyrants. It made a most profound im- 
pression. The spirit of resistance, which had now been 
thoroughly aroused, widened and increased, until the result 
was the battle of Alamance, in which was shed the first 
blood of the Revolution. This battle was fought on the 
16th of May, 1771, — four years before Lexington and 
Bunker Hill, — between about eleven hundred well-armed 
troops, under Governor Tryon, and about two thousand cit- 
izens, hastily assembled and poorly equipped, commanded 
by Husbands, who had no experience in military tactics. 
The battle terminated in the defeat of the citizens, with a 
loss of two hundred on their part and of sixty-odd of the 
regular army. 

The historian Bancroft, who examined the British state 
papers" touching all matters pertaining to the Regulation, 
wrote D. L. Swain, Esq., of North Carolina : " Their com- 
plaints were well founded, and were so acknowledged, 
though their oppressors were only nominally punished. 
They form the connecting link between the Stamp Act and 
the events of 1775, and they also played a glorious part in 
taking possession of the Mississippi Valley, towards which 
they were carried irresistibly by their love of independence. 
It is a mistake if any have supposed that the Regulators 
were cowed down by their defeat at the Alamance. Like 
the mammoth, they shook the bolt from their brow and 
crossed the mountains." 

Putnam, in his " Life and Times of General Robertson," 
remarks, " The battles of Lexington and Bunker Hill came 
in after-years ; but the ball was set in motion as early and 
by as pure hearts and resolute hands in North Carolina as 



in Massachusetts. And here, as well as there, was a people 
religiously educated in the great truths of the Bible, the 
right of conscience, and the rights of property." 

We place by the side of this first conflict of the Revolu- 
tion the famous " Mecklenburg Resolves," adopted by a 
convention of Mecklenburg Co., N. C, at Charlotte, May 
20, 1775, one year, one month, and sixteen days before the 
general declaration of independence. Abraham Alexander 
was chosen chairman and John BIcKuitt Alexander secre- 
tary. After a free and full discussion of the various objects 
of the meeting, which continued in session till two o'clock 
A.M. on the 20th, it was unanimously 

"I. Resolved^ That whosoever, directly or indirectly, 
abetted, or in any way, form, or manner countenanced the 
unchartered and dangerous invasion of our rights, as claimed 
by Great Britain, is an enemy to this country, to America, 
and to the inherent and inalienable rights of man. 

" II. Resolved, That we, the citizens of Mecklenburg 
County, do hereby dissolve the political bands which hove 
connected us to the mother-country, and hereby absolve 
ourselves from all allegiance to the British crown, and ab- 
jure all political connection, contract, or association with 
that nation, who have wantonly trampled on our rights and 
liberties and inhumanly shed the blood of American patriots 
at Lexington. 

" III. Resolved, That we do hereby declare ourselves a 
free and independent people, are, and of right ought to be, 
a sovereign and self-governing association, under the control 
of no power other than that of our God and the general 
government of the Congress ; to the maintenance of which 
independence we solemnly pledge to each other our mutual 
co-operation, our lives, our fortunes, and our most sacred 

" IV. Resolved, That as we now acknowledge the exist- 
ence and control of no law or legal officer, civil or military, 
within this county, we do hereby ordain and adopt, as a rule 
of life, all, each, and every of our former laws, wherein, 
nevertheless, the crown of Great Britain never can be con- 
sidered as holding rights, privileges, immunities, or authority 

Other resolutions were adopted making provision for the 
new condition of things. A copy of the proceedings of the 
convention was sent by express to the North Carolina mem- 
bers of Congress, then in session in Philadelphia. These 
delegates, approving of the spirit of their fellow-citizens and 
the elevated tone of the resolutions, thought them, never- 
theless, premature, as the Continental Congress had not yet 
abandoned all hopes of reconciliation, upon honorable terms, 
with the mother-country. 

Out of the bosom of such society came those noble pio- 
neers who at a later day established independent govern- 
ments in the wilderness beyond the mountains, first at 
Watauga and then upon the Cumberland. The same blood 
flowed in their veins, the same spirit animated them, and 
the same love of law and order was the germinal principle 
of the institutions which now flourish in Tennessee. 

Robertson had crossed the mountains to Watauga before 
the battle of Alamance, in 1770, made preparation for the 
removal of his family, and returned to Wake County. lie 
was there at the time of the battle of Alamance, and is 

thought by some to have participated in it. We take the 
following account of his first visit to Watauga from Hay- 
wood's " History of Tennessee" : 

" He visited the delightful country on the waters of 
Holston, to view the new settlements which then began to 
be formed on the Watauga. Here he found one Honeycut 
living in a hut, who furnished him with food. He made a 
crop there the first year. On recrossing the mountains he 
got lost for some time, and coming to a precipice, over 
which his horse could not be led, he left him there and 
traveled on foot. His powder was wetted b)» repeated 
showers, and could not be used in the procurement of game 
for food. Fourteen days he wandered without eating, till 
he was so much reduced and weakened that he began seri- 
ously to despair of reaching his home again. But there is a 
Providence which rules over over the destinies of men, and 
preserves them to run the race appointed for them. Un- 
promising as were the prospects of James Robertson at 
that time, having neither learning, experience, property, 
nor friends to give him countenance, and with spirits 
drooping under the pressure of penury and a low estate, 
yet the God of nature had given him an elevated soul and 
planted in it the seeds of virtue, which made him in the 
midst of discouraging circum.stances look forward to better 
times. He was accidentally met by two hunters, on whom 
he could not, without much and pressing solicitation, pre- 
vail so far as to be permitted to ride on one of their horses. 
They gave him food, of which he ate sparingly for some 
days till his strength and spirits returned to him. This is 
the man who will figure in the future so deservedly as the 
greatest benefactor of the first settlers of the country. He 
reached home in safety, and soon afterwards returned to 
Watauga with a few others and there settled." 

The place became an asylum from tyranny in the old 
portion of the colony, and many who saw no immediate 
prospect of a redress of their grievances resorted thither for 
peaceful and quiet homes. The settlement increased rap- 
idly, and soon the people organized a form of government 
for themselves. Meeting at Robertson's in May, 1772, they 
adopted articles of association. The commissioners elected 
were John Carter, James Robertson, Charles Robertson, 
Zachariah Isbell, John Sevier, James Smith, Jacob Brown, 
William Bean, John Jon'es, George Russell, Jacob Wo- 
mack, Robert Lucas, and William Tatham. Those selected 
as judges of the court were John Carter, James and Charles 
Robertson, Zachariah Isbell, and John Sevier. William 
Tatham was chosen clerk. The reader will become familiar 
with some of these names farther on in our history. 

The simple form of government thus established was 
sufficient for all practical purposes for several years. The 
articles of this association, which, it is believed, formed the 
first written compact of government west of the Alleghany 
Mountains, have unfortunately been They were 
adopted three years prior to the association formed for 
Kentucky under the great elm-tree outside of the fort at 
Boonesboro', on the thick sward of the fragrant clover so 
graphically spoken of by Bancroft. 





Col. Richard Henderson — Treaty at Sycamore Shoals — Transylvania 
Land Company — Thomas Sharpe Spencer — Kasper Mansker and 
Others of 1769-70— The Long Hunters— First Water Expedition 
on the Cumberland — Site of Nashville — Origin of the Licks — 
Boundary I^ine hetwecn Virginia and North Carolina, 

Before entering upon an account of the actual settle- 
ment of this portion of Middle Tennessee, it will be neces- 
sary to sgpak of the operations of Col. Richard Henderson 
and his treaty with the Cherokee Indians. In 1774, Col. 
Henderson and his associates of the " Transylvania Land 
Company" — a large corporation which had been formed 
for the purpose of speculating in lands between the Ohio 
and Tennessee Rivers — sent agents among the Cherokees 
to ascertain tlieir views with reference to a cession of their 
claim to lands in " the Kentucky country." The chiefs 
■were invited to the Sycamore Shoals, on the Watauga 
River, to enter into a treaty. Accordingly they assem- 
bled at the appointed time. Gen. Robertson was present to 
assist in the negotiations. " On this occasion," says Judge 
Haywood, " and before the Indians had concluded to make 
tlie cession, Oconnostata,* a Cherokee orator, called also 
Chief Warrior and First Representative, as well as Head 
Prince of the Clierokee Nation, delivered a very animated 
and pathetic speech" in opposition to the sale of the lands. 

In spite of his eloquence and predictions, however, the 
treaty was concluded on the 17th of March, 1775. It con- 
veyed to Henderaon and his associates all the lands lying 
between the Cumberland and Kentucky Rivers, in consid- 
eration of ten thousand pounds sterling, payable in mer- 
chandise. Twelve hundred Indians are said to have been 
assembled on the treaty-ground. f A young brave at the 
treaty was overheard by the interpreter to urge in support 
of the Transylvania cession this argument : That the set- 
tlement and occupancy of the ceded territory would inter- 
pose an impregnable barrier between the Northern and 
Southern Indians, and that the latter would in future have 
quiet and undisturbed possession of the choice hunting- 
grounds south of the Cumberland. His argument pre- 
vailed against the prophetic warning and eloquent remon- 
strance of Oconnostata. That aged chieftain signed the 
treaty reluctantly, and taking Daniel Boone by the hand, 
said, with most significant earnestness, " Brother, we have 
given you a fine land, but I believe you will have much 
trouble in settling it," — words which subsequent events but 
too mournfully verified. 

The associates of Henderson were Thomas Hart, John 
Williams, James Hogg, Nathaniel Hart, David Hart, Leon- 
ard H. Bulloch, John Luttrell, and William Johnson. 
They proposed to establish a new colony by the name of 
Transylvania, and sent a petition to Continental Congress 
to be admitted as one of the united colonies, declaring 
themselves in hearty sympathy with the struggle for inde- 

* This is the same chief whoso elegant Indian treaty-pitcher was 
presented to the Tennessee Historical Society by Mrs. President Polk, 
of which more hereafter. 

f Mouettc. 

This treaty being made by a corporation of private in- 
dividuals was pronounced invalid by proclamations of Lord 
Densmore, Governor of Virginia, and Governor Martin, of 
North Carolina. However, before this decision was had 
it had created an immense furor along the frontier, and mul- 
titudes were eagerly pressing to cross the boundary and take 
possession of the " goodly land." 

A portion of Henderson's purchase on the Lower Cum- 
berland was within the supposed bounds of North Carolina. 
It was at first reached through the old. route by the way of 
Cumberland Gap, and explorers continued to pass through 
it on their way to Middle Tennessee. Among others Kas- 
per Mansker renewed his visit in 1775, and came to the 
Cumberland in company with the Bryants. They en- 
camped at Mansker's Lick. Most of them became dissat- 
isfied with the country and returned home. Mansker and 
three others remained and pursued trapping on Sulphur 
Fork and Red River. 

Thomas Sharp Spencer and others, allured by the flatter- 
ing accounts they had received of the country, the fertility 
of soil and abundance of game, visited it in 1776. They 
came to the Cumberland River and erected a number of 
cabins. Most of them returned, but Spencer and Halli- 
day determined to remain. In 1778 they were joined by 
Richard Hogan, and in the spring of that year the party 
planted a small field of corn at Bledsoe's Lick, which was 
the first plantation cultivated by Americans in Middle Ten- 
nessee. Spencer was pleased with the country and with 
the prospect of rapid settlement, and determined to remain. 
He selected for his house a large hollow sycamore near the 
Lick, in which he resided for some time. Halliday, how- 
ever, decided to leave the wilderness, and in vain attempted 
to persuade Spencer to go with him. Having lost his knife, 
Halliday was unwilling to attempt the long journey through 
the wilderness without one with which to skin his venison 
and cut his meat. With true backwoods generosity Spen- 
cer accompanied his comrade to the barrens of Kentucky, 
put him on the right path, broke his knife and gave him 
half of it, and then returned to his hollow tree at the Lick, 
where he passed the winter. 

"Spencer was a man of gigantic stature, £fhd passing one 
morning the temporary cabin erected at a place since called 
Eaton's Station, and occupied by one of Capt. De Mum- 
brune's hunters, his huge tracks vpcre left plainly impressed 
in the rich alluvial. These were seen by the hunter on his 
return to the camp, who, alarmed at their size, immediately 
swam across the river and wandered through the woods until 
he reached the French settlements on the Wabash. "J 

That he was stronger than any two men of his day the 
following incident vpill show : With the help of two stout 
men he was building a house on " Spencer's choice." One 
day he lay before his fire sick and disinclined to exertion. 
The others continued the work, but finally had to stop on 
account of their inability to raise the heavy end of a log to 
its place, though they had succeeded with the lighter end. 
Spencer tried to stimulate them by saying that he could 
put it up by himself, when one of them, who had fre- 
quently expressed the belief that he was a match for Spen- 

I Ramsey, p. 194. 



cer, dared him insultingly to the trial. Spencer arose and 
lifted the log to its place with the greatest ease, and re- 
turned to his pallet. His opponent after this ceased to put 
in any claims of rivalrj'. 

His peaceful disposition is illustrated in the following 
instance : Two young men were vigorously pummeling each 
other on some public occasion when Spencer stepped up 
and separated them at arms' length, mildly remonstrating 
with them on their conduct. Bob Shaw, a very stout man 
himself, wanted to see the fight, and dealt Spencer a sting- 
ing blow in the face for interfering. Spencer instantly 
turned on Shaw, and seizing him by the nape of the neck 
and the waistband of his trowsers, carried him bodily to a 
high fence not far off and tossed him over. This ended all 
fighting while he was present. 

While on the scout or march he always preferred to go 
some distance in advance or rear, for safety as he thought, 
trusting to his own watchfulness to avoid danger. This 
peculiarity finally cost him his life. He had been to North 
Carolina to get a legacy of two thousand dollars in specie, 
and was returning with a train of wagons through the South 
Pass of Cumberland Mountains, now known as Spencer's 
Hill. As usual, he was far in advance, though it was one 
of the most dangerous localities on the route. A number 
of the whites had been killed or wounded here at different 
times, among the former Armistead Morgan, the best fid- 
dler in the Cumberland settlement, and withal an excellent 
Indian-fighter. On this occasion Spencer was fired upon at 
short range and fell dead ; his horse turned quickly, throw- 
ing oif his saddle-bags containing his money, and made his 
way back to the train. 


The following account of tlie " Long Hunters," with a 
few slight changes, is quoted from Ramsey's " Annals of 
Tennessee" : 

" On the 2d of June, 17C9, a large company of adven- 
turers was formed for the jjurpose of hunting and exploring 
in what is now Middle Tennessee. As the country was dis- 
covered and settled by the enterprise and defended by the 
valor of these first explorers, we choose to give their names, 
the places from which they came, and such details of their 
hazardous journeyings as have been preserved. 

" May the time never come when the self-sacrificing toil 
and the daring hardihood of the pioneers of Tennessee will 
be forgotten or undervalued by their posterity. The com- 
pany consisted of more than twenty men, some of them 
from North Carolina, others from the neighborhood of the 
Natural Bridge, and others from the infant settlement near 
Inglis' Ferry, in Virginia. The names of some of them 
follow : John Rains, Kasper Mansker, Abraham Bledsoe, 
John Baker, Joseph Drake, Obadiah Terrill, Uriah Stone, 
Henry Smith, Ned Cowan, Robert Crockett. The place 
of rendezvous was eight miles below Fort Chissel, on New 
River. They came by the head of Holston, and crossing 
the north fork. Clinch and Powell's Rivers, and passing 
through Cumberland Gap, discovered the southern part of 
Kentucky, and fixed a station-eamp at a place since called 
Price's Meadow, in Wayne County, where they agreed to 
deposit their game and skins. The hunters here dispensed in 

different directions, the whole company still traveling to the 
southwest. They came to Roaring River and the Cany 
Fork at a point far above the mouth and somewhere near the 
foot of the mountain. Robert Crockett was killed near the 
head-waters of Roaring River when returning to the camp, 
provided for two or three days' traveling ; the Indians were 
there in ambush and fired upon and killed him. The In- 
dians were traveling to the north, seven or eight in com- 
pany. Crockett's body was found on the war-track lead- 
ing from the Cherokee Nation towards the Shawnee tribe. 
All the country through which these hunters passed was 
covered with high grass; no traces of- any human settle- 
ment could be seen, and the primeval state of things reigned 
in unrivaled glory, though under dry caves, on the side of 
creeks, they found many places where stones were set up that 
covered large quantities of human bones; these were also 
found in the caves, with which the country abounds. They 
continued to hunt eight or nine months, when part of them 
returned in April, 1770.* 

" The return of Findley and Boone to the banks of the 
Yadkin, and of the explorers whose journal has just been 
given to their several homes, produced a remarkable sensa- 
tion. Their friends and neighbors were enraptured with 
the glowing descriptions of the delightful country they had 
discovered, and their imaginations were inflamed with the 
account of the wonderful products which were yielded in 
such bountiful profusion. The sterile hills and rocky up- 
lands of the Atlantic country began to lose their interest 
when compared with the fertile valleys beyond the moun- 
tains. A spirit of further exploration was thus excited in 
the settlements on New River, Holston, and Clinch, which 
originated an association of about forty stout hunters, for 
the purpose of hunting and trapping west of Cumberland 
Mountains. Equipped with their rifles, traps, dogs, blank- 
ets, and dressed in the hunting-shirt, leggins, and mocca- 
sins, they commenced their arduous enterprise in the real 
spirit of hazardous adventure, through the rough forest and 
rugged hills. The names of these adventurers are now not 
known. The expedition was led by Col. James Knox. The 
leader and nine others of the company penetrated to the 
Lower Cumberland, and making there an extensive and 
irregular circuit, adding much to their knowledge of the 
country, after a long absence returned home. They are 
known as the 'Long Hunters.' " 

Following the long hunters in 1770 was the first water 
expedition down the Cumberland River. It was made by 
Kasper Mansker, Uriah Stone, John Baker, Thomas Gor- 
don, Humphrey Hogan, Cash Brook, and others, ten in all, 
who built two boats and two trapping canoes, loaded them 
with the proceeds of their hunting, and descended the 
beautiful Cumberland, before unnavigated except by the 
French pirogue or the gliding canoe of the Indian. Where 
Nashville now stands they discovered the French Lick, and 
found around it immense numbers of buffalo and other 
wild game. The country was crowded with them, and 
their bellowing sounded upon the hills and the forest. On 
the mound near the French Lick the voyagers discovered 
a stockade fort, built, as they supposed, by the Cherokees 

■■■■■ Hjiywooil, 



on their retreat from the battle at the Chickasaw Old 
Fields. The voyagers proceeded down the river to the 
mouth of the Cumberland. Here they met a company of 
plumed and painted warriors on their way up the Ohio, 
about twenty-five in number, under John Brown, the old 
mountain leader; they replenished their guns and ammuni- 
tion from the store of the hunters, and, without offering 
them any personal violence, proceeded on the war-path 
against the Senecas. They were kindly treated by French 
traders to the Illinois, whom they met at the mouth of the 
Ohio, and continued their voyage as far down as Natchez, 
where some of them remained ; but Mansker and Baker 
returned by way of the Keowee towns to New River. 

In the fall of 1771, Kasper Blansker, John Montgomery, 
Isaac Bledsoe, Joseph Drake, Henry Suggs, James Knox, 
William and David Linch, Christopher Stoph, William 
Allen, and others made further explorations on the Lower 
Cumberland. Among them was an old hunter named 
Russell, who was so dim-sighted that he was obliged to tie 
a white piece of paper at the muzzle of his gun to direct 
his sight at the game ; and yet he was quite successful in 
killing deer. The winter being inclement the hunters built 
a house of skins, leaving five men in charge of it, while 
the others returned home for ammunition. During their 
absence, a company of Northern Indians attacked the camp 
and took Stoph and Allen prisoners. Hughes made his 
escape, and meeting the company i-eturning they proceeded 
together to the camp, which they found undisturbed. This 
party, in extending their hunting excursions, built a camp 
upon a creek which still bears the name of Camp Creek. 
The camps of the hunters at this time were the only habi- 
tations in Middle Tennessee, there being no Indian lodges 
anywhere in the country visited by the explorers. There 
had probably been no permanent Indian occupation after 
the expulsion of the Shawnees. Whenever a hunter in 
ranging through the country discovered a " lick" it usually 
took his name. Hence Drake's Lick, Bledsoe's Lick, 
Blansker's Lick, etc., given by the party of hunters of 
1771. The many " licks'" which still bear the names of 
daring hunters in Kentucky and Tennessee give evidence 
of the abundance of moose, deer, and elk which resorted 
to them ; and the buffalo trails between these primitive 
" watering-places" served as the only roads to guide the 
traveler through the uninhabited wilderness. 

In 1749 the boundary-line between Virginia and North 
Carolina was extended by commissioners of the respective 
colonies to the Holston River at a place directly opposite 
Steep Rock. Had it been then extended to the Mississippi, 
or even made to keep pace with the advance of settlements 
westward, it would have saved a great deal of trouble, dis- 
puting, and litigation. For many years the boundary be- 
tween Kentucky and Tennessee was in a state of uncer- 
tainty. In 1779 commissioners were appointed by both 
the parent States to extend the line to the Mississippi. 
They met in September of that year, and after due observa- 
tion agreed upon the point from which the line should be 
continued. After running to Carter's Valley, some forty 
miles, they disagreed. The commissioners from North 
Carolina insisted upon running the line two miles farther 
north than was approved by those from Virginia, therefore 

they ran two parallel lines at that distance apart. The 
southern line was run by a surveyor by the name of Walker, 
and has ever since been known as " the Walker Line ;" the 
northern one was run by Col. Richard Henderson, the great 
land-speculator, of whom more will be said hereafter. The 
disputed boundary was not adjusted till 1820, when the 
Walker Line was fully recognized. It is true that Col. 
Anthony Bledsoe, afterwards most favorably known and 
usefully identified with the settlements and perils on the 
Cumberland, had as early as 1771 examined the question 
of boundary, and being a practical surveyor, in whom much 
confidence was placed, he had extended the Walker Line 
some distance west, and thereby enabled many of the set- 
tlers to decide for themselves whether they owed allegiance 
to Virginia or North Carolina. 



Aborigines — Prehistoric Races — Mounds and Relics in Middle Ten- 
nessee — Original Occupation by the Shawnees — Cherokees and 
Chiekasaws — Conquest and Expulsion of the Shawnees — Conquest 
and Cession by the Iroquois Confederacy — Poaver and Dooainion of 
the Six Nations — They make a Neutral Hunting-Ground of Ten- 
nessee and Kentucky. 

Although the hunters when they came into Middle 
Tennessee found the country unoccupied except by wild 
beasts and covered by dense forests and cane-brakes, yet 
centuries before it had been inhabited by a race of people 
far more numerous than the Indian tribes who occupied 
the soil at a later date. The hunters and pioneers trod 
over vast cemeteries of an extinct race, immense numbers 
of whose remains are buried in all the caves and mounds, 
and at every living spring on both sides of the Cumberland 
River from its source to its mouth and generally throughout 
Middle and Western Tennessee. No doubt can exist in 
the mind of the archseologist as to the identity of these 
people with the ancient mound-builders, who at a remote 
period spread themselves over a large portion of the con- 
tinent. The skeletons of these people appear in such num- 
bers as to warrant the conclusion that their population at 
one time must have exceeded the present inhabitants of the 
United States. Their most populous centres appear to 
have been in the great valley of the Mississippi and its 
tributary valleys, along which they spread from the Alle- 
ghany Mountains and from the lake region of the North- 
west to the Gulf of Mexico. It has been ascertained by 
careful observation that there are at least a hundred thou- 
sand skeletons of this ancient people within the limits of a 
single county in Iowa.* 

Aroha3ologists, by comparative anatomy and by the study 
of the mounds and relics, have collected and classified a 
vast array of facts respecting the mound-builders and other 
prehistoric races. They arc easily distinguished from the 
Indians by their skeletons, especially by the size and shape 
of the skull and by their structures and relics of art, which 

-• Lecture by Hon. Samuel Murdock, Garnavillo, Iowa. 



indicate a higher civilization than has boon found among 
the Indians. The great antiquity of their works is proved 
by the large trees found growing above their mounds and 
fortifications, — trees as large as any to be found in the 
forest, and indicating the growth of centuries. The oldest 
Indians had no traditions reaching back to the origin of 
these works, llespectiug the mounds of Tennessee and 
the Southwest, the Shawnees and Cherokees informed Gen. 
llobertson and Judge Haywood that they were in the 
country when their ancestors came to it, and that no tradi- 
tion existed among them as to the origin and fate of the 
people who built them. 

We cannot, of course, in a work of this sort, enter into a 
discussion of the prehistoric races, a subject which belongs 
to archaeology rather than to history.* 

The first Indians who occupied the Cumberland Valley 
within the historic period were the Shawnees. On the 
map accompanying Marquette's journal, published in 16S1, 
many of their town-sites on the Lower Cumberland are in- 
dicated, and the river itself is called the river of the Shaw- 
nees. At an early time this tribe was scattered over a 
wide extent of country, a portion of them living in Eastern 
Virginia, and another branch on the head-waters of the Sa- 
vannah. In 1772, Little Cornplanter, an intelligent Cher- 
okee chief, related that the Shawnees, a hundred years be- 
fore, by the permission of his nation, removed from the 
Savannah Kiver to the Cumberland. Many years after- 
wards, he said, the two nations became unfriendly, and 
the Cherokees marched in a large body against the Shaw- 
nees, many of whom they slew. The survivors fortified 
themselves and maintained a protracted war until the Cher- 
okees were joined by the Chickasaws, and the Shawnees 
were gradually expelled from the Cumberland Valley. This 
was about the year 1710. Charleville, the French trader, 
came to the Cumberland a few years after, and occupied for 
his house the fort which the Shawnees had built, near the 
French Lick, on the Nashville side of the river. Charle- 
ville learned from a Frenchman who preceded him that 
the Chickasaws, hearing of the intended removal of the 
Shawnees, resolved to strike them upon the eve of their de- 
parture, and take possession of their stores. For tliis pur- 
pose a large party of Chickasaw warriors posted themselves 
on both sides of the Cumberland, above the mouth of the 
Harpeth River, provided with cauoes to prevent their es- 
cape by water. The attack was successful. All the Shaw- 
nees were killed and their property captured by the Chick- 
asaws. This, however, was only a small remnant of them, 
the main part of the tribe having previously removed to 
the vicinity of the Wabash, where, in 1764, they were 
joined by another portion of the tribe from Green River, 
in Kentucky. Of this tribe Tecumseh was subsequently 
the great chief and warrior, and also his brother, the 
famous Shawnee prophet. They were united with the 
Miamis and other Northwestern tribes in the wars with 
Harmar, St. Clair, and Gen. Anthony Wayne. Roving 
bands of them occasionally visited their old hunting- 

■•" Those desirous of studying the subject will find valuable aids in 
Haywood's History of Tennessee, vol. i. j Foster's Prehistoric Races, 
and Short's Americans of Antiquity. 


grounds on the Cumberland and the Tennessee, and in- 
flicted great injury on the early settlers. They were a part 
of the banditti who committed enormous outrages on the 
emigrants and navigators while descending the famous 
passes of the Tennessee. 

The Cherokees occupied only a portion of East Tennes- 
see, — that part south of the Tennessee River, from the 
point where it crosses the North Carolina boundary to 
where it enters the State of Alabama. Their settlements 
extended thence southward into Georgia, Alabama, and 
South Carolina; but they claimed the right to lands on the 
Cumberland, and not only expelled the Shawnees, but at- 
tempted for many years to destroy the settlements of the 
whites in this region. The Cherokees, before 1G23, dwelt 
upon the Appomattox, in the neighborhood of Monticello, 
but in that year were driven out by the Virginians, who 
killed all they could find, cut up and destroyed their crops, 
and caused vast numbers of them to perish by famine. 
They removed to New River and made a temporary settle- 
ment, and also on the head of the Holston, whence, in a 
few years, on account of the hostility of the Northern In- 
dians, they removed and formed the middle settlements on 
Little Tennessee. Cornelius Dogherty, who became a tra- 
der among the Cherokees in 1690, taught them to steal 
horses from the Virginians, which were the first horses the 
Cherokees ever had. Another tribe of Indians came from 
the neighborhood of Charleston, S. C, and settled them- 
selves lower down the Tennessee. The Carolina tribe called 
themselves Kefawaugas, and came last into the county. 

" The Cherokees found white people near the head of the 
Little Tennessee, who had forts from thence down the Ten- 
nessee River to the mouth of Chickamauga. They had a 
fort at Fumpkintown, one at Fox Taylor's reserve, near 
Hamilton Court-House, and one on Big Chickamauga, about 
twenty miles above its mouth. The Cherokees waged war 
against them, and drove them to the mouth of Big Chicka- 
mauga, where they entered into a treaty by which they 
agreed to depart the country if the Cherokees would per- 
mit them to do so in peace ; which they did."f This tem- 
porary settlement — the first attempted by English people 
in all the Southwest — is confirmed by Brown, a Scotchman, 
who came among the Cherokees in 1761. He saw on the 
Hiwassee and Tennessee remains of old forts, about which 
were boxes, axes, guns, and other metallic utensils. 

The great war between the Cherokees and Creeks, which 
resulted in the settlement of a division-line between them, 
ended about the year 1710. The farthest extent of the 
Cherokee settlements was about the town of Seneca, in the 
Pendleton district of South Carolina. The Cherokees have 
in their language names for whales and sea-serpents, from 
which it appears that they migrated from the shores of an 
ocean in the northern part of America. 

Adair says of the Cherokees, " Their national name is 
derived from C/tee-ra, — fire, — which is their reputed lower 
heaven, and hence they call their magi Cheera-tahge, men 
possessed of the divine fire. The natives make two divi- 
sions of their country, which they term Ayrate and Ottare, 
signifying loiu and mountainous. The former is on the 

f Haywood, vol. i. p. 234. 



lioad-branches of the beautiful Savannah, and the latter on 
those of the easternmost river of the great Mississippi." 

The same writer says that forty years before the time he 
wrote (1775) the Cherokees had sixty-four populous towns, 
and that the old traders estimated their fighting-men at 
above six thousand. The frequent wars between the Over- 
hill towns and the northern Indians, and between the mid- 
dle and lower towns and the Muskogee or Creek Indians, 
had greatly diminished the number of the warriors, and 
contracted the extent of their settlements. 

The frontier of Virginia, the Carolinas, and Georgia all 
suflFered from their vigor and their enterprise ; and these 
pages will hereafter abound with instances of their revenge, 
their perfidy, and their courage. They were the mountain- 
eers of aboriginal America, and, like all other mountaineers, 
adored their country, and held on to and defended it with 
a heroic devotion, a patriotic constancy, and an unyielding 
tenacity which cannot be too much admired or eulogized. 

The native land of the Cherokee was the most inviting 
and beautiful section of the United States, lying upon the 
sources of the Catawba and the Yadkin, — upon Keowee, 
Tugaloo, Flint, Etowah, and Coosa, on the east and south, 
and several of the tributaries of the Tennessee on the west 
and north. 

This tribe, inhabiting the country from which the southern 
confluents of the Tennessee spring, gave their name at first 
to that noble stream. In the earlier maps the Tennessee 
is called the Cherokee River. In like manner the name of 
this tribe also designated the mountains near them. Cur- 
rahee is only a corruption of Cherokee, and in the maps 
and treaties where it is thus called it means the mountains 
of the Cherokees. 

Of the martial spirit of this tribe abundant evidence 
will be hereafter given. In the hazardous enterprises of 
war they were animated by a restless spirit which goaded 
them into new exploits and to the acquisition of a fresh 
stock of martial renown. The white people for some years 
previous to 1730 interposed their good offices to bring 
about a pacification between them and the Tuscaroras, with 
whom they had long waged incessant war. The reply of 
the Cherokees was, " We cannot live without war^ Should 
we make peace with the Tuscaroras, we must immediately 
look out for some other with whom we can be engaged in 
our beloved occupation." 

The Chickasaws were another tribe of Indians Intimately 
identified with our local history, though not residing within 
the limits of Middle Tennessee. 

This nation inhabited the country east of the Mississippi 
and north of the Choctaw boundary ; their villages and 
settlements were generally south of the thirty-fifth degree 
of north latitude, but they claimed all the territory within 
the present States of Tennessee and Kentucky which lies 
between the Tennessee and Mississippi Rivers, and a con- 
siderable portion north of the former. These they claimed 
as hunting-grounds, though they had few or no permanent 
settlements within them. Tradition assigns to this tribe 
when they first emigrated to this country a very consider- 
able population, but when Adair first visited them (1735) 
the Chickasaw warriors were estimated below five hundred. 
Though thus inconsiderable in numbers, the Chickasaws 

were warlike and valiant. They exercised an unwonted 
influence over the Natchez, Choctaws, and other tribes. 

Whatever claim these several Indian nations may have 
set up to the country north of the Tennessee, and between 
that and the Ohio, they had evidently no right to it. It 
belonged by right of conquest to the Six Nations, or the 
Iroquois Confederacy. 

At a celebrated treaty held at Lancaster the statement 
made by the delegates in attendance from the Six Nations 
to Dr. Franklin was, " that all the world knows that we 
conquered all the nations back of the great mountains ; we 
conquered the nations residing there ; and that land, if the 
Virginians ever get a good right to it, it must be by us." 
These Indian claims are solemnly appealed to in a diplo- 
matic memorial addressed by the British ministry to the 
Duke Mirepoix, on the part of France, June 7, 1755. "It 
is a certain truth," states the memorial, "that these lands 
have belonged to the confederacy, and as they have not 
been given up or made over to the English, belong still to 
the same Indian nations." The court of Great Brilian 
maintained in this negotiation that the confederates were, 
by origin or by right of conquest, the lawful propi'ietors of 
the river Ohio and the territory in question. In support 
of this ancient aboriginal title, Butler adds the further tes- 
timony of Dr. Mitchell's map of North America, made 
with the documents of the Colonial Office before him. In 
this map, the same as the one by which the boundaries in 
the treaty of Paris in 1783 were adjusted, the doctor ob- 
serves " that the Six Nations have extended their terri- 
tories ever since the year 1672, when they subdued and 
were incorporated with the ancient Shawaneese, the native 
proprietors of these countries." This, he adds, is con- 
firmed by their own claims and possessions in 1742, which 
include all the bounds as laid down in the map, and none 
have even thought fit to dispute them.* 

On the 6th of May, 1768, a deputation of the Six Na- 
tions presented to the superintendent of Indian aff'airs a 
formal remonstrance against the continued encroachments 
of the whites upon their lands. The subject was immedi- 
ately considered by the royal government, and near the 
close of summer orders were issued to Sir William John- 
son, Superintendent of Northern Indian Affairs, instruct- 
ing him to convene the chiefs, warriors, and sachems of the 
tribes most interested. Agreeably to these orders Sir Wil- 
liam Johnson convened the delegates of the Six Nations, 
and their confederates and dependents, at Fort Stanwix 
(now Rome, N. Y.), October 24th. Three thousand two 
hundred Indians, of seventeen different tribes, tributaries 
to the confederacy, or occupying territories coterminous 
with theirs, attended. On the 5tli of November a treaty 
of limits and a deed of cession to the King of England 
were agreed upon and signed, ceding all the lands south of 
the Ohio River as far as the Tennessee River. An inci- 
dent which occurred at the treaty afibrds conclusive evi- 
dence of the understanding of the Cherokees of the claim 
which the confederates were about to surrender. Some 
of the visiting Cherokees on their route to Fort Stanwix 
had killed game for their support, and on their arrival at 

■■'■■ Franklin's works, as quoted by Butter. 



the treaty-ground tendered the skins to the Six Nations, 
saying, " They are yours, we liilled them after passing tlie 
big river," the name by which they always designated the 
Tennessee. By the treaty of Fort Stanwix the Six Na- 
tions ceded all their right southeast of the Ohio down to 
the Cherokee River, which they stated to be their just 
right, and vested the soil and sovereignty thereof in the 
King of Great Britain. By the treaty of 1783 Great 
Britain surrendered the sovereignty of these lauds to the 
States within whose limits they were situated. 

In 1781, Colonel Crogan, who had lived thirty years 
among the Indians as deputy superintendent, deposed that 
the Six Nations claim by right of conquest all the lands on 
the southeast side of the river Ohio down to the Cherokee 
River, and on the west side down to the Big Miami, other- 
wise called Stony River ; but that the lands on the west 
side of the Ohio below Stony River were always supposed 
to belong to the Western Confederacy. But evidences 
need not be multiplied. The settlement of the Cherokees 
on the south side of the Holston and Great Tennessee is 
an admission of the correctness of the claim of the Iro- 
quois set up at the treaty of Fort Stanwix. 

The Six Nations, who ceded the territory including Da- 
vidson County to the English in 1768, were the most 
powerful Indian confederacy on the continent. They occu- 
pied as the centre of their dominion what they metaphor- 
ically termed the " Long House," — that is, the territory of 
New York, extending from the Hudson River to Lake 
Erie. The Mohawks kept the eastern door, the Senecas 
the western ; the southern door, through the Susquehanna 
to Chesapeake Bay, was guarded by a Cayuga viceroy, 
stationed at Old Tioga, now Athens, Pennsylvania ; in the 
centre the Onondagas, or Men of the Mountain, kept the 
sacred council-fires of the confederacy at the capital, where 
all the great councils of the union were convened and the 
questions of peace and of war were decided. No people 
were ever so favorably situated for broad and sweeping con- 
quests over large areas of country, having access to Lower 
Canada by the Hudson and Lake Champlain. The same 
great river carried them southward to Long Island, whence 
they subdued the tribes along the sound and on the Dela- 
ware. By the Oswego River northward, and by Lake 
Erie, they had access to the whole chain of upper lakes, 
by which they carried their conquest into the heart of Illi- 
nois. The great avenue of the Susquehanna on the south 
enabled them to subdue the Andastes and Delawares of 
that rich valley, and to carry their victorious arms into 
Virginia and North Carolina. On the west the great river 
Ohio and its tributaries opened an avenue for them to the 
borders of the Chickasaw, Choctaw, Cherokee, and Creek 
Nations, along which they carried their conquests to the 
Tennessee River, and held the territory by treaty with the 
conquered tribes, to whom they dictated terms of submis- 
sion. There is no historic fact better established than that 
this great league or confederacy of the Iroquois dominated 
over all the surrounding tribes, from New England to Ala- 
bama, and from the Alleghany Mountains to the Missis- 
sippi. They had great men, great orators, and great states- 
men among them. 

The Mohawks, Oneidas, Onondagas, Cayugas, and Senecas 

probably crossed the St. Lawrence into the rich hunting- 
grounds of New York about the beginning of the seven- 
teenth century. On the banks of the beautiful Lake Gan- 
entaha, the site of the Jesuit mission of 1654, in the 
environs of what is now Syracuse, N. Y., their confederacy 
was formed, about 1620. 

In 1712, when the Tuscaroras, a people occupying their 
tributary territory in North Carolina, were conquered by 
the whites, the Five Nations received them in New York, 
making a place for them in the bosom of the confederacy, 
where they were established as the sixth nation. This 
great confederacy was never in alliance with the French, 
although the ecclesiastical authorities at Quebec as early as 
1641 began to make strenuous efforts to win their friend- 
ship by sending Fathers Jogues, Le Moyne, Lallamand, and 
other Jesuit missionaries among tliem: They became the 
strong and powerful allies of the English, and under the 
wise policy of Sir William Johnson, who lived among tjiem 
on the Mohawk River, they maintained faithfully their 
allegiance through the French war and down to the strug- 
gle of the colonies for independence. 

By their dictation the rich lands on the Cumberland 
and in Middle Tennessee were kept from Indian occupa- 
tion till they ceded them to Great Britain in the treaty of 
Nov. 5, 1768. For this reason, and on account of the 
mildness of the climate and the rich pasturage furnished 
by its varied ranges of plain and mountain, Tennessee, in 
common with Kentucky, had become an extensive park, of 
which the finest game in the world held undisputed posses- 
sion. Into these wild recesses savage daring did not often 
venture to penetrate. Equidistant from the settled terri- 
tories of the Southern and Northern tribes, it remained by 
common consent uninhabited by either, and little explored. 
The approach of civilization from several directions began 
to abridge the territories of surrounding Indian nations, 
and the margin of this great terra incognita was occasionally 
visited by parties of savages in pursuit of game. Such was 
the state of things when the hunters and pioneers came to 
the Cumberland. 



Preparations for .Settlement at French S.-ilt Lick— Robertson and hia 
Party Plant Corn on the Cumberland— First Immigranis to the 
Present Site of Nashville — The Overland Company — The Expedi- 
tion by Water down the Tennessee — Col. John Donelson's Journal 
—Arrival and Settlement at the Bluff- Fort built at Nashborough. 

Early in the spring of 1779 preparations were making 
at Watauga to plant a permanent settlement on the Cum- 
berland. The place selected was the bluff near the French 
Lick (now Nashville). It was deemed advisable that a 
company should go in advance and plant corn, so that the 
maturity of the crop in autumn would supply bread for the 
immigrants upon their arrival. Those who undertook this 
preparatory work were Capt. James Robertson, George 
Freeland, William Neely, Edward Swanson, James Hanly, 
Mark Robertson, Zaohariah Wells, and William Overhall. 
Mounting their equipments and provisions on pack-horses. 



tliey filed through Cumberland Gap and turned into tlie 
■wilderness of Kentucky, to follow the trail which had been 
before trodden by Boone, Mansker, and other daring hunt- 
ers. They continued their wanderings and explorations, 
often following buffalo-paths which led through dense for- 
ests and cane-brakes from one water-course to another, and 
more distinctly trodden between the salt or sulphur springs, 
until they arrived at their destination. They were soon 
joined by another party under the leadership of Kaspcr 
Mansker, and all united in planting corn near the Sulphur 
Spring. After the planting was over, and other prepara- 
tions made, the company returned to Watauga, except 
Wells. Swanson, and Overhall, who remained to take care 
of the crop, and Capt. Robertson, who made a journey to 
the Illinois to purchase cabin-rights of Gen. George Rogers 
Clarke. Having effected this object and procured some 
additional stock which he saw would be valuable in the 
new settlement, Capt. Robertson returned to Watauga, and 
was soon ready to conduct his portion of the immigrants to 
the French Lick. iMansker during the same season led 
several families to Mansker's and Bledsoe's Licks. There 
was much excitement in the Watauga and adjoining settle- 
ments respecting emigration to the Cumberland, and a large 
number enrolled themselves among the adventurers. It 
was decided that the women and children, who could not 
perform the tedious land journey, should be sent to the 
same destination by water down the Holston and the Ten- 
nessee, and up the Ohio and the Cumberland to where 
Nashville now stands. It was a bold and untried experi- 
ment, — a thousand miles of navigation through an uniri- 
Labited wilderness, over dangerous watei-s, and with a help- 
less freight, so far as assistance was concerned, in case of 
attacks from the Indians, who might be lurking at every 
unsuspected point along their course. No craft except the 
Indian's canoe had hitherto explored these waters for a 
considerable portion of their perilous voyage. But stout 
hearts and wise heads were at the helm. This expedition 
was under the charge of Col. John Donelson, who had 
command of the "Adventure," the flag-ship of the squad- 
ron. For some time before the fleet was in readiness boat- 
building had been active on the Watauga. In the con- . 
struction of many of the craft to be used in the expedition 
a single tree — generally a poplar or whitewood — was se- 
lected, and by means of the axe and adze a canoe or pirogue 
was fashioned. A few scows or flat-boats were made of 
sawed plank boarded up at the sides, with a roof covering 
more or less of the length of the boat. The " Adventure" 
was of sufiicient size and so arranged as to accommodate a 
dozen or twenty families. Like the " arks" used at an 
early day for descending the Susquehanna from Arkport to 
Baltimore, these vessels were constructed with reference to 
going down the river with the current, and were not at all 
adapted to ascending the streams, a fact which gave our 
adventurers great toil and delay when they turned their 
prows up against the current of the Ohio and the Cumber- 

Before giving an account of this wonderful voyage it will 
be necessary for us to follow the company of immigrants 
under Capt. Robertson to their destination at the French 
Lick. They were quite a numerous party, — amounting to 

several hundred, — among whom were many young men with- 
out families. On their way they were overtaken by a com- 
pany of immigrants under Mr. John Rains, who had started 
from New River in October, and were bound to Harrod's 
Station, in Kentucky. They were persuaded to join Capt. 
Robertson's party and change their destination to the Salt 
Lick.* The route over which they passed was a diflicult 
and circuitous one, by the way of Cumberland Gap and the 
Kentucky trace to Whitley's Station, on Dick's River ; 
thence to Carpenter's Station, on Green River; thence to 
Robertson's Fork, on the south side of that stream ; thence 
down the river to Pittman's Station, crossing and descend- 
ing that river to Little Barren River, crossing Barren at 
the Elk Lick, passing the Blue Spring and Dripping Spring 
to Big Barren River ; thence up Drake's Creek to a bitu- 
minous spring (yet known) ; thence to the Maple Swamp ; 
thence to Red River, at Kilgore's Station ; thence to Mans- 
ker's Lick ; and from there to the French Lick, or bluff 
where Nashville now stands. 

These places, with the exception of the first and two 
last mentioned, are all in Kentucky. 

The season was remarkably inclement, so much so that 
the winter of 1779-80 has been noted throughout the 
northern and middle latitudes as " the cold winter." The 
immigrants began to experience the severity of the weather 
early. They bad much difficulty in tlieir route, yet they 
arrived at the appointed rendezvous in safety, no death 
having occurred among them and without any attack by 
the Indians. They reached the Cumberland on Christmas- 
day, 1779. The ice in the river was sufiiciently solid to 
allow them to cross with their horses and cattle. They 
crossed over to the bluff about the 1st of January, 1780, 
and immediately went to work to erect for themselves 
cabins and shanties. 

Here we shall leave the Robertson party for the present, 
and follow the fortunes of those under Col. Donelson, iu 
their long and eventful voyage by the water-route. We 
give below the narrative of Col. Donelson, as kept by him- 
self during the voyage : 

"Journal op a voyage, intended by God's permission, 
in the good boat ' Adventure,' from Fort Patrick Henry, 
on Holston River, to the French Salt Springs, on Cum- 
berland River, kept by John Donelson. 

" Deceiiiber 22, 1779. — Took our departure from the 
fort and fell down the river to the mouth of Reedy Creek, 
where we were stopped by the fall of water, and most ex- 
cessive hard frost ; and after much delay and many difiicul- 
ties we arrived at the mouth of Cloud's Creek, on Sunday 
evening, the 20th February, 1780, where we lay by until 
Sunday, 27th, when we took our departure with sundry 
other vessels bound for the same voyage, and on the same 
day struck the Poor Valley Shoal, together with Mr. Boyd 
and Mr. Rounsifer, on which shoal we lay that afternoon 
and succeeding night in much distress. 

" Monday, February 2Sth, 1780. — In the morning, the 

» " Rains had examined both sections of the country, and declared 
he 'felt like the man who wanted a wife, and linew of two beautiful 
women, cither of whom would suit, and he wanted them both.' " — 
rutnam, p. 66. 



water rising, we got off' the shoal, after landing thirty per- 
sons to lighten our boat. In attempting to land on an 
island received some damage and lost sundry articles, and 
came to camp on the south shore, where we joined sundry 
other vessels also bound down. 

" Tuesday, 29tJi. — Proceeded down the river and camped 
on the north shore, the afternoon and following day proving 

" Wednesday, March \st. — Proceeded on and camped on 
the south shore, nothing happening that day remarkable. 

" March 2d. — Rain about half the day ; passed the 
mouth of French Broad River, and about twelve o'clock 
Mr. Henry's boat being driven on the point of an island* 
by the force of the current was sunk, the whole cargo much 
damaged, and the crew's lives much endangered, which 
occasioned the whole fleet to put on shore and go to their 
assistance; but with much difficulty bailed lier, in order to 
take in her cargo again. The same afternoon Reuben 
Harrison went out a hunting and did not return that night, 
though many guns were fired to fetch him in. 

'^Friday, 3d. — Early in the morning fired a four-pounder 
for the lost man, sent out sundry persons to search the 
woods for him, firing many guns that day and the succeed- 
ing night ; but all without success, to the great grief of his 
parents and fellow-travelers. 

" Saturday, 4lh. — Proceeded on our voyage, leaving old 
Mr. Harrison, with some other vessels, to make further 
search for his lost son ; about ten o'clock the same day 
found him a considerable distance down the river, where 
Mr. Ben. Belew took bim on board his boat. At three 
o'clock P.M. passed the mouth of Tennessee River, and 
camped on the south shore about ten miles below the mouth 
of Tennessee. 

" Sunday, 5fh. — Cast off' and got under way before sun- 
rise ; twelve o'clock passed the mouth of Clinch ; at twelve 
o'clock M. came up with the Clinch River Company, 
whom we joined and camped, the evening proving rainy. 

" Monday, 6lh. — Got under way before sunrise ; the 
morning proving very foggy, many of the fleet were much 
bogged ; about ten o'clock lay by for them ; when collected, 
proceeded down. Camped on the north shore, where Capt. 
Hutching's negro man died, being much frosted in his feet 
and legs, of which he died. 

" Tuesday, 1th.- — Got under way very early, the day 
proving very windy, a S.S.W., and the river being wide 
occasioned a high sea, insomuch that some of the smaller 
crafts were in danger ; therefore came to at the uppermost 
Chiccamauga Town, which was then evacuated, whei'e we 
lay by that afternoon and camped that night. The wife of 
Ephraim Peyton was here delivered of a child. Mr. Pey- 
ton has gone through by land with Capt. Robertson. 

" Wednesday, Sth. — Cast off at ten o'clock and proceed 
down to an Indian village, which was inhabited, on the 
south side of the river ; they insisted on us to ' come 
ashore,' called us brothers, and showed other signs of friend- 
ship, insomuch that Mr. John Caff'rey and my son, then 
on board, took a canoe which I had in tow, and were cross- 
ing over to them, the rest of the fleet having landed on the 

•" Probably William's Island, two miles above Knoxville. 

opposite shore. After they had gone some distance, a half- 
breed, who called himself Archy Coody, with several other 
Indians, jumped into a canoe, met tliem, and advised them 
to return to the boat, which they did, together with Coody 
and several canoes which loft the shore and followed directly 
after him. They appeared to be I'riendly. After distrib- 
uting some presents among them, with which they seemed 
much pleased, we observed a number of Indians on the 
other side embarking in their canoes, armed and painted 
with red and black. Coody immediately made signs to his 
companions, ordering them to quit the boat, which they 
did, himself and another Indian remaining with us and 
telling us to move off instantly. We had not gone far 
before we discovered a number of Indians, armed and 
painted, proceeding down the river, as it were, to intercept 
us. Coody, the half-breed, and his companion sailed with 
us for some time, and, telling us that we had passed all the 
towns and were out of danger, left us. But we had not 
gone far until we had come in sight of another town, situ- 
ated likewise on the south side of the river, nearly opposite 
a small island. Here they again invited us to come on 
shore, called us brothers, and observing the boats standing 
oflF for the opposite channel, told us that ' their side of the 
river was better for boats to pass.' And here we must re- 
gret the unfortunate death of young Mr. Payne, on board 
Capt. Blackemore's boat, who was mortally wounded by 
reason of tlie boat running too near the northern shore op- 
posite the town, where some of the enemy lay concealed, 
and the more tragical misfortune of poor Stuart, his family 
and friends, to the number of twenty-eight persons. This 
man bad embarked with us for the Western country, but 
his family being diseased with the smallpox, it was agreed 
upon between him and the company that he should keep 
at some distance in the rear, for fear of the infection spread- 
ing, and he was warned each night when the encampment 
should take place by the sound of a horn. After we had 
passed the town the Indians, having now collected to a con- 
siderable number, observing his helpless situation, singled 
off from the rest of the fleet, intercepted him, and killed 
and took prisoners the whole crew, to the great grief of 
the whole company, uncertain how soon they might share 
the same fate ; their cries were distinctly heard by those 
boats in the rear. 

" We still perceived them marching down the river in con- 
siderable bodies, keeping pace with us until the Cumberland 
Mountains withdrew them from our sight, when we were 
in hopes we had escaped them. We were now arrived at 
the place called the Whirl, or Suck, where the river is com- 
pressed within less than half its common width above by 
the Cumberland Mountains, which jut in on both sides. 
In passing through the upper part of these narrows, at a 
place described by Coody, which he termed the 'boiling 
pot,' a trivial accident had nearly ruined the expedition. 
One of the company, John Cotton, who was moving down 
in a large canoe, had attached it to Robert Cartwright's 
boat, into which he and his family had gone for safety. 
The canoe was here overturned, and the little cargo lost. 
The company, pitying his distress, concluded to halt and 
assist him in recovering his property. They had lauded on 
the northern shore at a level spot, and were going up to 



the place when the Indian.?, to our astonishment, appeared 
immediately over us on the opposite cliffs, and commenced 
firing down upon us, which occasioned a precipitate retreat 
to the boats. We immediately moved off, the Indians lining 
the bluffs along continued their fire from tlie heights on 
our boats below, without doing any other injury than 
wounding four slightly. Jennings' boat is missing. 

" We have now passed through the Whirl. The river 
widens with a placid and gentle current, and all the com- 
pany appear to be in safety except the family of Jonathan 
Jennings, whose boat ran on a large rock projecting out 
from the northern shore, and partly immersed in water im- 
mediately at the Whirl, where we were compelled to leave 
them, perhaps to be slaughtered by their merciless enemies. 
Continued to sail on that day and floated throughout the 
following night. 

" Thursday, Qth. — Proceeded on our journey, nothing 
happening worthy attention to-day ; floated till about mid- 
night, and encamped on the northern shore. 

"Friday, 10th. — This morning about four o'clock we 
were surprised by the cries of 'help poor Jennings,' at some 
distance in the rear. He had discovered us by our fires, 
and came up in the most wretched condition. He states 
that as soon as the Indians discovered his situation they 
turned their whole attention to him, and kept up a most 
galling fire at his boat. He ordered his wife, a son nearly 
grown, a young man who accompanied them, and his negro 
man and woman to throw all his goods into the river to 
lighten their boat, for the purpose of getting her off, him- 
self returning their tire as well as he could, being a good 
soldier and an excellent marksman. But before they had 
accomplished their object, his son, the young man, and the 
negro jumped out of the boat and left them. He thinks 
the young man and the negro were wounded before they 
left the boat.* Mrs. Jennings, however, and the negro 
woman succeeded in unloading the boat, but chiefly by the 
exertions of Mrs. Jennings, who got out of the boat and 
shoved her off, but was near falling a victim to her own 
intrepidity on account of the boat starting so suddenly as 
soon as loo.sened from the rock. Upon examination, he 
appears to have made a wondeiful escape, for his boat is 
pierced in numberless places with bullets. It is to be re- 
marked that Mrs. Peyton, who was the night before delivered 
of an infant, which was unfortunately killed upon the hurry 
and confusion consequent upon such a disaster, assisted 
them, being frequently exposed to wet and cold then and 
alterwards, and that her health appears to be good at this 
time, and I think and hope she will do well. Their clothes 
were very much cut with bullets, especially Mrs. Jennings'. 

" Saturday, 11th. — Got under way after having distrib- 
uted the family of Mrs. Jennings in the other boats. 

* The negro was drowheJ. The son and the young man swam to 
the north side of the river, whore they found and embarlied in a 
canoe and floated down the river. The next day they were met by 
five canoes full of Indians, who took them prisoners and carried them 
to Chickamauga, where they killed and burned the young man. 
They knocked Jennings down and were about to kill him, but were 
prevented by the friendly mediation of Rogers, an Indian trader, who 
ransomed him with goods. Rogers had been taken prisoner by 
Sevier a short time before, and had been released ; and that good 
office he requited by the ransom of Jennings. 

Rowed on quietly that day, and encamped for the night 
on the north shore. 

" Sunday, lith. — Set out, and after a few hours' sailing 
we heard the crowing of cocks, and soon came within view 
of the town ; here they fired on us again without doing 
any injury. 

" After running until about ten o'clock, came in sight of 
the Muscle Shoal. Halted on the northern shore at the 
appearance of the shoals, in order to search for the signs 
Capt. James Robertson was to make for us at that place. 
He set out from Holston early in the fail of 1779, was to 
proceed by the way of Kentucky to the Big Salt Lick on 
Cumberland River, with several others in company, was to 
come across from the Big Salt Lick to the upper end of the 
shoals, there to make such signs that we might know he 
had been there, and that it was practicable for us to go 
across by land. But to our great mortification we can find 
none, — from which we conclude that it would not be prudent 
to make the attempt, and are determined, knowing ourselves 
to be in such imminent danger, to pursue our journey down 
the river. After trimming our boats in the best manner 
possible, we ran through the shoals before night. When 
we approached them they had a dreadful appearance to 
those who had never seen them before. The water being 
high made a terrible roaring, which could be heard at some 
distance among the drift-wood heaped frightfully upon the 
points of the islands, the current running in every possible 
direction. Here we did not know how soon we should be 
dashed to pieces, and all our troubles ended at once. Our 
boats frequently dragged on the bottom, and appeared con- 
stantly in danger of striking. They warped as much as in 
a rough sea. But by the hand of Providence we are now 
preserved from this danger also. I know not the length 
of this wonderful shoal ; it had been represented to me to 
be twenty-five or thirty miles. If so, we must have de- 
scended very rapidly, as indeed we did, for we passed it in 
about three hours. Came to, and camped on the northern 
shore, not far below the shoals, for the night. 

" Monday, 13//t. — Got under way early in the morning, 
and made a good run that day. 

" Tuesday, 1-lth. — Set out early. On this day two boats 
approaching too near the shore were fired upon by the 
Indians. Five of the crews were wounded, but not dan- 
gerously. Came to camp at night near the mouth of a 
creek. After kindling fires and preparing for rest the 
company were alarmed, on account of the incessant barking 
our dogs kept up ; taking it for granted that the Indians 
were attempting to surprise us, we retreated precipitately to 
the boats ; fell down the river about a mile and encamped 
on the other shore. In the morning I prevailed on Mr. 
Caffrey and my son to cross below in a canoe and return 
to the place, which they did, and found an African negro 
we had left in the hurry asleep by one of the fires. The 
voyagers returned and collected their utensils which had 
been left. 

" Wednesday, Ibth.- — Got under way and moved on 
peaceably the five following days, when we arrived at the 
mouth of the Tennessee on Monday, the 20th, and landed 
on the lower point immediately on the bank of the Ohio. 
Our situation here is truly disagreeable. The river is very 



high and the current rapid, our boats not constructed for 
the purpose of stemming a rapid stream, our provisions ex- 
hausted, the crews almost worn down with hunger and fii- 
tigue, and know not what distance we have to go, or what 
time it will take us to our place of destination. The scene 
is rendered still more melancholy, as several boats will not 
attempt to ascend the rapid current. Some intend to de- 
scend the Jlississippi to Natchez ; others are bound for 
Illinois, among the rest my son-in-law and daughter. We 
now part, perhaps, to meet no more, for I am determined to 
pursue my course, happen what will. 

" Tuesday, 21st — Set out, and on this day labored very 
liard and got but a little way ; camped on the south bank 
of the Ohio. Passed the two following.days as the former, 
suffering much from hunger and fatigue. 

" Friday, 'Zith. — About three o'clock came to the mouth 
of a river which I thought was the Cumberland. Some 
of the company declared it could not be, — it was so much 
smaller than was expected. But I never heard of any 
river running in between the Cumberland and Tennessee. 
It appeared to flow with a gentle current. We determined, 
however, to make the trial, pushed up some distance and 
encamped for the night. 

" Saturday, 2oth. — To-day we are much encouraged ; 
the river grows wider ; the current is very gentle, and we 
are now convinced it is the Cumberland. I have derived 
great assistance from a small square sail which was fixed up 
on the day we left the mouth of the river, and to prevent 
any ill effects from sudden flaws of wind a man was sta- 
tioned at each of the lower corners of the sheet with di- 
rections to give way whenever it was necessary. 

" Sunday, 26th. — Got under way early ; procured some 
buffalo meat ; though poor, it was palatable. 

" Monday, 27th. — Set out again ; killed a swan, which 
was very delicious. 

" Tuesday, 28?A.-T-Set out very early in the morning ; 
killed some buffalo. 

" Wednesday, 29th. — Proceeded up the river ; gathered 
some herbs on the bottoms of Cumberland, which some of 
the company called Shawnee salad. 

" Thursday, 30th. — Proceeded on our voyage. This day 
we killed some more buffalo. 

Friday, 31st. — Set out this day, and after running some 
distance met with Col. Kichard Henderson, who was run- 
ning the line between Virginia and North Carolina. At 
this meeting we were much rejoiced. He g'ave us every 
information we wished, and further informed us that he had 
purchased a quantity of corn in Kentucky, to be shipped 
at the Falls of Ohio, for the use of the Cumberland set- 
tlement. We are now without bread, and are compelled 
to hunt the buffalo to preserve life. Worn out with fa- 
tigue, our progress at present is slow. Camped at night 
near the mouth of a little river, at which place and below 
there is a handsome bottom of rich land. Here we found 
a pair of hand-mill stones set up for grinding, but appeared 
not to have been used for a great length of time. 

" Proceeded on quietly until the 12th of April, at which 
time we came to the mouth of a little river running in on 
the north side, by Moses Renfoe and his company called 
Red River, up which they intended to settle. Here they 

took leave of us. We proceeded up Cumberland, nothing 
happening material until the 23d, when we reached the 
first settlement on the north side of the river, one mile and 
a half below the Big Salt Lick, and called EatonV Station, 
after a man of that name, who, with several other families, 
came through Kentucky and settled there. 

" Monday, April 2-ilh. — This day we arrived at our 
journey's end, at the Big Salt Lick, where we have the 
pleasure of finding Capt. Robertson and his company. 
It is a source of satisfaction to us to be enabled to restore 
to him and others their families and friends who were en- 
trusted to our care, and who, some time since, perhaps, de- 
spaired of ever meeting again. Though our prospects at 
present are dreary, we have found a few log cabins which 
have been built on a cedar bluff above the Lick by Capt. 
Robertson and his company." 

The names of the persons who came in this company are 
given by Col. Donelson as follows : 

John Donelson, Sr. 
Thomas Hutchings. 
John Caffrey. 
John Donelson, Jr. 
James Robertson's lady and 

Mrs. Purnell. 
M. Rounsifer. 
James Cain. 
Isaac Neely. 
John Montgomery. 
Jonathan Jennings 
Benjamin Belew. 
■"^'eter Looney. 
Capt. John Blackemore. 
Sloses Renfroe. 
William Crutohfield. 

5Ir. Johns. 

Hugh Henry, Sr. 

Benjamin Porter. 
Mrs. Henry (widow). 
John Cotton. 
Thomas Henry. 
Mr. Cookrell. 
Frank Armstrong. 
Hugh Rogan. 
Daniel Chambers. 
Robert Cartwright. ■^ 


David Gwinn. . 
John Boyd. 
Reuben Harrison. — 
Frank Haney. 


John White. 
Solomon White. 
Payne (killed). 

"There were other names not put down, women, children, 
and servants. Mrs. Peyton, whose infiint was killed in the 
confusion of unloading the boat of Jonathan Jennings 
during the attack upon it by the Indians, was the daughter 
of Jennings and mother of Hon. Bailie Peyton. Iler 
husband, Ephraim Peyton, had accompanied Capt. Robert- 
son with the stock by land. The two young men who 
with the negro man jumped out of the boat to swim ashore, 
seized a canoe, pushed down the river, leaving the women 
(Mrs. Jennings, Mrs. Peyton, and a negro woman) to their 
fate. The negro man lost his life in the water. The young 
men were intercepted in their canoe by the Indians, were 
captured and taken to Chickaraauga, where the Indians 
killed the young man and burned him. Young Jennings 
was about to share the same fate when he was ransomed 
by a trader named Rogers." 

The account they gave of the appearance of the Blufl, 
or Salt Lick, where the companies arrived in the winter 
and spring of 1780, is that although there were " open 
grounds," there is no evidence that it had ever been under 
cultivation. The open space around and near the sulphur 



or salt springs instead of being an " old field," as had been 
supposed by Mansker at his visit here in 1769, was thus 
freed from trees and underbrush by the innumerable herds 
of bufl'aloes, deer, and elk that came to these waters. The 
place was the resort of these wild animals, among which 
also came bears, panthers, wolves, and foxes. Trails or 
buffalo-paths were deeply worn in the earth from this to 
other springs. Bluoh of the country was covered with a 
thick growth of cane from ten to twenty feet high. 

The pioneers were huddled in a few rude huts which 
had been hastily thrown together, as men throw brush in 
a clearing or pitch up a pen to keep the calf from the cow. 
Wood was plenty, but it was cold work chopping it. Wild 
game was abundant, but very poor on account of the " hard 
winter." Many deer were found to have died of hunger 
and cold. Many hunters and explorers in Kentucky have 
recorded the same fact, attributing it to the long and in- 
tense cold of the season. 

" Bears' oil was the only substitute we had for butter, 
lard, or gravy," said one of the pioneers, " and we learned 
to prefer it to either." Hunters have often said that bears' 
oil when fresh made them feel warm and strong. They 
became very fond of it. 

When the settlers arrived upon the Cumberland they saw 
no Indians, and they knew of no tribe that was settled 
between its waters and those of the Tennessee, nor of any 
Indian towns north of them and south of the Ohio. Here 
seemed to be a vast extent of woodland, barrens, and 
prairies, inviting human settlement and the improvements 
of civilization. The Delawares, who had appeared on the 
head-waters of Mill Creek and professed to have come only 
to hunt, had traveled a long distance. The Creeks and 
Cherokees claimed no lands within the limits of these new 
settlements ; therefore it is not surprising that some of the 
people were reluctant to give much of their time and labor 
to the erection of forts and stations when all wanted homes ; 
and some had made haste to select the choicest places, thus 
creating discontent on the part of others. But the tempta- 
tion to " mark and blaze claims'' and scatter abroad was 
repressed by the more wise and experienced among them, 
who induced the others to contribute a certain portion of 
their time to " the erection of a few strongholds and de- 
fenses,'' and places " for the deposit of provisions, arms, 
and ammunition." 

It was agreed that the fort at the Blufi^, or Nashborough, 
should be the principal one and the headquarters. Others 
were commenced about the same time at the spring in 
North Nashville, called Freelands ; one on the east side of 
the river upon the highland, called Eaton's ; others at or 
near the sulphur spring ten miles north, called Kasper's, 
where the town of Goodtellsville is now situated ; one on 
Station Camp Creek, about three miles from Gallatin, on 
the bluff by the turnpike, called Asher's ; one at the low- 
lands on Stone's River, called Stone's River, or Donelson's, 
now known as Clover Bottom ; and one at the bend of the 
river above the bluffs, about six miles distant, the site of 
" Fort Union," where once was the town of Haysborough. 

The fort at Nashville was erected upon the bluff between 
the southeast corner of the Square and Spring Streets, so as 
to include a fine spring, which then issued from that point. 

the waters of which dashed down the precipice, giving 
great charm and interest to the location. The structure 
was a log building two stories high, with port-holes and a 
lookouf^station. Other log houses were near it, and the 
whole was inclosed with palisades or pickets firmly set in 
the ground, having the upper ends sharpened. There was 
one large entrance or gateway, with a lookout-station for a 
guard or sentinel above it. The top of the fort afforded an 
elevated view of the country around, though at that time 
much obstructed to the west and southwest by a thick 
forest of cedar-trees, beneath which, towards Broad Street 
and Wilson's Spring, there was a dense growth of privet- 
bushes. Upon lands with deeper soil and less rock there 
were forest-trees of large growth and thick cane-brakes. 
The rich bottom-lands were covered with cane measuring 
from ten to twenty feet in height. The ancient forest-trees 
upon the rich lands in this region were of a majestic 
growth, some of which have been spared the woodman's 
axe, which destroyed by thousands these monarchs of the 
forest, to make room for civilized homes and cultivated 
fields. " There are a few, and but a few, of such native 
woods and magnificent trees remaining in the vicinity of 
the capital of Tennessee." 



Trouble with the iDdiixns — Deaths during the First Year— Scarcity of 
Food — Valor and Hardihood of the Settlers — The "Clover Bottom 

The stationers arrived upon the Cumberland just upon 
the eve of an outbreak of Indian hostilities. " The sava- 
ges," says Haywood, " seized the first opportunity after the 
hard winter was over to approach the improvements around 
the Bluff, and carry among the early settlers the work of 
massacre and devastation." During the first year no less 
than thirty-seven at the different stations were killed, being 
picked off" here and there by roving, predatory bands of 
Indians, who scarcely showed themselves openly anywhere. 
The thick cane-brake and wild undergrowth afforded them 
every advantage for concealment. The only one of the 
settlers who died a natural death the first year was Robert 
Gilkie. We give the names of the killed as we gather 
them from Ramsey's and Haywood's histories, as follows : 
two men by the name of Milliken, Joseph Hay, old Mr. 
Bernard, Jonathan Jennings, Ned Carver, James Mayfield, 
Porter, near Eaton's Station ; Jacob Stump, Jesse~Bales- 
tine, John Shockley, two men not named, at Bledsoe's ; 
William Johnston, on Barren River; one at Asher's Station ; 
Isaac Le Fevre, near the fort on the Bluff; Solomon Phil- 
lips and Samuel Murray, at Cross' Old Fields ; Bartlett 
and Joseph Renfoe, old Mr. Johns' and his wife and 
family, John Robertson, son of Capt. James Robertson, 
Abel Gower, Jr., and others. The stations were nearly all 
broken up except Eaton's and the one at the Bluff. All 
who could get to these stations did so, but many never saw 
their comrades in these places. Some were killed while 



asleep ; some were awakened only to be apprised that their 
last moment had come ; some were killed at noonday when 
not suspecting danger. Death seemed ready to devour the 
whole colony. On the morning that Mansker's Station 
was broken up two men who had slept a little later than 
their companions were shot bj' Indians pointing their guns 
through the port-holes oP the fort. They were David Groin 
and Patrick Quigley. These Indian alarms caused Mr. 
Rains to remove to the Bluff, where he remained four years 
before he dared to settle upon his plantation. 

Although the crop of corn this year on the lowlands 
and islands was seriously damaged by a freshet in July, 
and there was a great scarcity of bread, yet the hunters 
procured a full supply of meat for the inhabitants by kill- 
ing bears, buffaloes, and deer. A company of twenty men 
went up the Cany Fork as far as Flynn's Creek, and re- 
turned with their canoes laden with meat in the winter. 
They are reported to have killed one hundred and fifty 
bears, seventy-five buffaloes, and more than ninety deer 
upon this excursion. This source of supply furnished the 
families at the Bluff with meat ; but the scarcity of bread 
and the multiplied disasters and dangers which threatened 
the settlements induced a considerable portion of the set- 
tlers to remove to Kentucky and IlUnuis. All the remain- 
ing inhabitants collected al the three stations, — the Bluff, 
Eaton's, and Freeland's. 

These desultory attacks of the Indians, kept up at in- 
tervals through a period of nearly fifteen years, swelled the 
number of victims to a fearful list, among whom were in- 
cluded some of the bravest and best of the settlers. This 
told at times with desolating and disheartening effect upon 
the hopes and spirits of the survivors, but was not carried 
to the extent of paralyzing their energies, or of inducing 
them to yield with resignation to the merciless stroke of 
the tomahawk. " The instances of cowardice were remark- 
ably few. There was a chivalrous stickling for the back- 
woods ethics which required every man to turn out gun in 
hand at tlie first cry of alarm and fly to the aid of the dis- 
tressed and the unfortunate. The records of the ages 
furnish no brighter examples of self sacrificing friendship 
than are found in the history and traditions of these people. 
Even in the most perilous conjunctures there were never 
wanting bold spirits, ready to break through the chain of 
hostile environment for the purpose of carrying the tidings 
of alarm to other places and bringing back succor, or of 
penetrating the forest in search of game for the sustenance 
of the hungry." 

The records of most of the engagements of the settlers 
with the Indians are very brief and fragmentary, — a neces- 
sary consequence with later historians of the dearth of 
written records and the passing away of the actors who 
could have given full and intelligent accounts of the events 
in which they participated. Those were not the days of 
newspapers and ready reporters anxious to glean every 
fact, and thus rob the future antiquarian of his pleasurable 

The most striking fact in connection with the history of 
this period is showp in the readiness r.nd alacrity with 
which the settlers engaged in battle with their enemies 
even at fearful odds. While they were steady and un- 

daunted in their defense, nothing could exceed the spirit 
and precipitation of their attacks. It is further noticeable 
that no case occurred where a house or station was surren- 
dered by parley, and but one or two instances, at most, 
where persons submitted to capture. It was always a death- 
struggie. It might be said of the entire body of Cumber- 
land settlers that as a people tliey were superlatively brave, 
enterprising, and spirited, and in hardihood and endurance 
were never surpassed. The full force of this remark will 
be felt when the fact is stated and properly appreciated 
that in the year 1783 there were not two hundred men 
capable of bearing arms in the Cumberland settlements, 
while at any time there could have been brought into the 
field against them, from a distance of not over two hundred 
miles at the farthest, the full strength of the Cherokee and 
Creek nations, numbering not less than ten thousand war- 
riors in a state of deep hostility, and at liberty to select 
the time and mode of attack. It is confidently believed 
that few people have encountered greater , difficulties in 
founding a new community. Their record of heroic en- 
durance has few parallels ; their tasks were herculean. To 
the vicissitudes of heat and cold, the river's flood, and the 
manifold perils of wilderness life they bared their bodies 
with uncomplaining and unexampled fortitude, — of very 
different stamp from that of the gladiator, who steps into 
the arena and conquers or dies amid the plaudits of assem- 
bled thou.sands. They had no spectators to the thrilling 
drama they were enacting. 


The following account of an adventure willi the Indians 
while gathering Col. Donelson's corn at Clover-Bottom in 
the fall of 1780 is taken from Putnam's " History of Mid- 
dle Tennessee" : 

" The company from the Bluffs was under the command 
of Abel Gower. He had with him his son, Abel Gower, 
Jr., John Randolph Robertson, a relative of Col. Robert- 
son, and several others, white and black,, seven or eight in 
all. The party from Mansker's Station was under the di- 
rection of Capt. John Donelson, second son of Col. John 
Donelson. He was a J'oung man of about six and twenty 
years of age. Robert Cartwright, an aged gentleman, was 
also in the company. . . . 

" The parties having ascended Stone's River and fas- 
tened their boats to the bank (between the present turnpike- 
bridge and the small island a few yards below), commenced 
gathering the corn, packing it in baskets and sacks and 
transferring it by means of a ' slide' to the boats. Capt. 
Donelson had brought a horse for the purpose of dragging the 
rudely-constructed ' slide,' as also to use in towing boats up 
the stream. They were encamped for several days and nights 
upon the ground. During each night their dogs kept up 
an almost incessant barking. They had with them more dogs 
than men. Some of the party had suggested that the dogs 
scented or discovered Indians in the surrounding woods and 
cane. But the prevailing opinion was that as there was 
much fresh meat at the camp and offal left in the woods 
where buffalo had been killed, the wolves were attracted 
thereby, and the dogs were barking at these wild beasts. 
During the last night of their continuance at the place the 



dogs rushed furiously in every direction around the camp, 
!is if actually mad, making the -woods ring and echo with 
their barking. 

" In the morning they made no examination for Indian 
signs, but hastened the completion of their loads and prepa- 
rations for departure. Very early Capt. Donelson pu.shed 
his boat across the river and began to gather the bolls of 
cotton and deposit them in heaps upon the corn in his boat. 
It was thought this would cause but a short delay. But 
when Capt. Gower's party had finished their breakfast 
they became impatient to start. Donelson had expected 
Gower's boat also to cross the river, and his people to share 
in the crop of cotton. 

" Great was the surprise of Capt. Donelson and Mr. Cart- 
wright to discover Gower's boat passing down the stream 
instead of coming across. Capt. Donelson stepped to the 
bank of the river, hailed them, and asked if they were 
coming over or going to leave them behind. Gower re- 
plied, ' We are not coming over ; it is getting late in the 
day. We wish to reach the BlufiFs before night. I think 
there is no danger.' Capt. Donelson remonstrated, but 
added, ' If you can risk it, so can wo ; we will first gather 
the cotton.' By this time, and while they were yet con- 
versing, Capt. Gower's boat had drifted into the head of the 
narrow island shute, when the Indians, who wore in ambush 
on the south side (supposed to be several hundred in num- 
ber), opened a desperate fire upon the men in Gower's boat. 
Capt. Donelson saw the attack plainly. He immediately 
ran down to his own boat and secured the rifle and shot-bag. 
Upon rising the bank he saw the Indians in pursuit of sev- 
eral men who had jumped from the boat at the first fire. 
The water did not exceed three or four feet in depth. 

" He also discovered a large party of Indians making their 
way up the river-bank to a point opposite his boat. There, 
however, the river was too deep to bo forded. Upon that 
party Capt. Donelson fired, and then endeavored to join his 
own party. They had all fled into the cane upon hearing 
the guns fired and the yells of the savages. It was with 
considerable difliculty he was enabled to rejoin his friends. 
The horse was given to Mr. Cartwright, who otherwise could 
not have escaped, being aged and infirm. Some of the 
party of Capt. Gower were killed at the first fire, others 
were overtaken in the water and tomahawked. . . . One 
white man and a negro escaped into the woods. Another 
negro, a free man, known as Jack Civil, was slightly 
wounded and surrendered. He was taken to the Chicka- 
mauga towns, remained, and moved with that roving, mur- 
derous, thieving sot farther down the Tennessee River, and 
gave name to the town of Nick-a-Jack, or Nigger-Jack's 

"The white man and negro who jumped from the boat 
and escaped into the woods wandered for twenty hours. 
At length they reached the station towards morning, pushed 
aside some of the pickets and entered the inclosure at the 
blufis undiscovered by any one in the fort, although the 
dogs gave the faithful alarm. Gower's boat floated down 
the river, the corn and some of the dead being on board, 
undisturbed, except by some-of the dogs which continued 
therein. The opinion prevailed for some days that the 
Donelson party had fallen victims to the guns and toma- 

hawks of the savages. It was hazardous to pass between 
stations so distant as Mansker's and the Bluff. James 
Randolph Robertson was among the slain. 

" There was no alternative for the Donelson party ; they 
must abandon the boat and all it contained and flee into the 
woods. They could render no assistance to their friends, 
now overwhelmed ; they could not pass out with their own 
boat; and they might well suppose that the savages, flushed 
with an easy victory over half the harvesters, would speedily 
be in pursuit of themselves. After Capt. Donelson had 
overtaken the fleeing party, they hastily agreed upon the 
direction to be taken, so that they might assemble the next 
day upon the banks of the Cumberland some miles above 
the mouth of Stone's River, where they would attempt to 
cross and escape to Mansker's Station. It was deemed ad- 
visable to separate, not all to go togetlier, lest thereby they 
should make such a trail through the cane and bushes as 
the Indians could easily follow. 

" Having continued their course until sunset, Capt. Don- 
elson discovered a large hickory-tree which had fallen to 
the ground, and as it had a thick top and a large supply 
of leaves, he called in the wanderers, and they huddled 
together there for the night. They did not attempt to 
kindle any fire, though they greatly needed it. The night 
was passed in quiet, but with very little sleep. Capt. Don- 
elson informed the party of the slaughter he had witnessed 
of the Gower party. He believed they were all killed, and 
that the Indian force was sufficient to besiege and capture 
any of the stations. 

" The situation of this little squad was also very critical. 
The savages might be in search of them, and they had the 
river between them and their friends at Mansker's Station, 
and there was no boat to be had. How should they get 
over ? or what should they do ? Having convened upon 
the bank of the river, they endeavored to construct a raft 
upon which to be floated across. They had left the axe in 
the boat, and no light and suitable material could be found 
to answer the purpose. Yet they gathered sticks and fast- 
ened them together with withes and vines, and made sev- 
eral attempts to go over, but the current -inevitably drove 
their rude float back to the side of the river whence they 
had set out. They had to abandon all efforts thus to get 
over, and permit their raft to be carried away by the cur- 
rent. What now shall be done ? At this juncture Col. 
Donelson's faithful servant, Somerset, volunteered to swim 
the river with the aid of the horse, and ride to the sta- 
tion and give information of the situation of the party. 
He succeeded in crossing, ascended the opposite bank, and 
hastened in the direction through cane and woods. Safely 
arriving at the station, he gave the first information of the 
disastrous defeat. It was indeed sad news, disheartening: 
to every one. 

" Immediately a few active men returned with Somerset, 
taking axes wherewith to cut and prepare a float for the 
relief of their friends, who were suffering with cold and 
hunger. It was chill November weather, and the rain had 
fallen during a part of the night and morning. They were 
all passed over and safely arrived at the station."* 

■■'■■ No better subject could be oflcred for a poem thjin the voluntary 
heroism of this old servant, Somerset, lie merited a monument. 






Mode of Reaching the Cumberland Settlements — Primitive Houses — 
Kough Fnre — First WedJing— Public Morals — B:ickwoods Schools — 
Pioneer Ministers — Circuit-Riders — Long Journeys to Meeting — 
The Hunting-Shirt of the Eiirly Days. 

For most of the matter contaiaed in this chapter we are 
indebted to Dr. J. B. McFerrin, himself a pioneer, and 
able from liis personal recollections to describe graphically 
the scenes of that period. 

As salt was very difficult to obtain, the first settlers saved 
their meats by drying them in the sun and open air. This 
was commonly called "jerking." The meat was cut into 
thin slices and strung upon sticks, which were placed upon 
scaifolds in the sun, or over a slow fire, and kept until per- 
fectly dry ; in this condition it remained sound and sweet 
for a long time. 

The immigrants in coming into Middle. Tennessee usually 
followed Indian trails and buffalo paths, or, guided by their 
pocket compass, followed their course till they reached their 
destined point. They usually located near a spring of clear 
water, where they encamped till they could determine on 
some permanent settlement. They generally came in com- 
panies. Each man had his rifle, his shot-pouch, powder- 
horn, and ammunition. p]aoh company had a number of 
pack-horses on which they brought their camp-kettles, pro- 
visions, and blankets, and, when families came through, a 
small amount of bedding, with wearing-apparel, was brought 
along to supply the women and children, and with which 
to make a little start in housekeeping. 

Many of them built " half-faced camps," in which they 
lived till they could clear a patch, plant some corn, and 
erect a cabin. These camps were constructed of forked 
stakes driven into the ground, across which poles were laid, 
and covered with split clapboards. The rear pgrtion of the 
structure reached the ground, the ends were inclosed, while 
the whole front was left open. The bed was made upon 
boughs under the slanting roof, while the fire at the open front 
served them for warmth and for cooking such provisions as 
they could obtain. A skillet with a lid, a small pot, and an 
oven were considered a large supply of cooking-utensils. 
Those who were not so well provided broiled their meat 
upon the coals, or on a spit made of a hickory stick, while 
the bread was baked in the ashes or on a journey, vulgarly 
called a "johnny," cake-board. These journey-cakes were 
delicious. The board was made of a piece of timber or 
plank dressed smooth, about six inches wide and twenty 
long, and the dough, well kneaded, was placed upon the 
board, set before a fire of hot coals, baked, turned, and cooked 
brown. It was choice bread on the tables of the most aris- 
tocratic pioneers. Made rich by lard, cracklings, or bear's 
oil, it was delicious. 

These camps were followed by log cabins made of trees 
cut from the forests. They were usually small and con- 
structed of round logs, roughly notched together at the cor- 
ners. One doorway, and a window made by cutting one 
log in two, were the common modes of admitting the in- 
habitants, light and air. The chimney was made of sticks 
and clay, and the cracks were sometimes daubed with mud. 

The floor was often nothing but the earth beat solid, or 
made of rough puncheons split from soft trees, generally lin, 
which grew in abundance. A hewed log house with a 
shingled roof, stone chimney, plank floor, and glass windows 
was considered a great improvement on the primitive cabin, 
and a mark of wealth and distinction. For a considerable 
time in the early settlement these were the best houses which 
the country afforded, and many of them are still standing. 

The fare in those days might be considered rough ; ven- 
ison, bear meat, elk, and wild turkeys were considered lux- 
uries. As civilization advanced, and the game became sctrrco, 
" hog and hominy" became the standing dishes. After 
a while the farmers began to grow wheat, and as soon as 
mills existed for converting it into flour the youngsters 
were allowed wheat, or English bread, as it was called, on 
Sunday morning. Coffee was a rare article, and only in- 
dulged in on great occasions. The most wealthy could not 
think of its use more than once a week. Sugar and syrup 
were principally procured from the maple-trees, which were 
'■ notched" in the latter part of winter or early spring, the 
sap caught in troughs, and boiled down in kettles or pots 
till it became thick enough to be " stirred off" into sugar, 
as the process was called. These sugar-camps were great 
institutions in their day, and a "stirring off" was a grand 
occasion, when many a gallant youth made love to his blue- 
eyed sweetheart, or to the smiling lass whose raven locks 
floated carelessly on the winds of the wildwood. These 
" stirs off" were fitrmore romantic and enchanting than the 
artificial " candy-pullings" of more modern times. The first 
marriage celebrated in Davidson County, or west of the Cum- 
berland Mountains, was that of Capt. Leiper. This was in 
1780, before there was a clergyman in the settlement. Col. 
James Robertson, as head of the government of the " nota- 
bles, " performed the ceremony. An early historian says, 
" There was pretty much of a feast at this wedding, and a 
most cheerful company. They had no wine or ardent 
spirits; they had no wheat or corn-bread, no cakes, no con- 
fectioneries ; but they had any quantity of fresh and dried 
meat — buffalo tongue, bear meat, venison saddle and veni- 
son ham — broiled, stewed, fried and jerked, and, as a great 
delicacy for the ladies, some roasting ears, or ears of green 
corn roasted, or boiled, or made into succotash." 

The people of those days were plain and full of hospital- 
ity. There was no extravagance, but all seemed deter- 
mined to make their adopted country a delightful land. 
The women spun and wove and made bed-quilts, nursed 
their own children, and thought a houseful of rosy boys and 
airls a great treasure. The men lived on wholesome, strong 
food and wore homespun. Public men in those days were 
expected to be men of integrity, and when a man was found 
competent and fttithful in oflice he was kept at his post. 
One of the acts passed by the first court was in these 
words : 

" Whereas, In all well-regulated governments effectual 
care is always taken that the day set apart for public wor- 
ship be observed and kept holy, all persons are enjoined 
carefully to apply themselves to the duties of religion and 
piety, to abstain from labor in ordinary callings. All viola- 
tions to be punished by fine of ten shillings proclamation 



Profane swearing, intemperance, lewdness, and other like 
vices and improprieties were also to be punished. Another 
act provided : 

'' Whereas, Wicked men, too lazy to get their living by 
honest labor, noake it their business to ride in the woods 
and steal cattle and hogs, and alter and deface marks and 
biands, when convicted shall be 

'TiDed and confined, 
And scorched with a brand 
In the left hand, 
As you m.iy see, 
With a big letter T." 

Dr. McFerrin thus describes the first schools and school- 
houses : 

" At the appointed day the whole community met to- 
gether, with axes, frow, wagons, and teams. A site was 
selected, trees felled, the logs hauled, the house raised, the 
roof put on, the benches made, the writing-desk fixed at 
one side, a log being cut out to admit the light, and procla- 
mation was made that John Smith would open a three 
months' school nest Monday morning. Mr. Smith was 
represented as a fit model to take care of his institution. 
He could read, write a fair hand, set a good copy, and ci- 
pher to the double rule of three. And besides, his terms 
were reasonable. He could teach five days in the week, 
and twelve hours each day, or at least the children must 
leave home by sunrise in tlie morning, and would be let out 
just time enough to return before dark. Those who lived 
a great distance ofi' might be let out a little sooner, so as 
not to be out in the night. And then he would charge at 
the rate of eight dollars a year ; he would make up all the 
time he missed, and deduct from the price of tuition every 
day the child was absent by the will of the parent. He 
would ' board round' among the scholars, and take his pay 
one-half in money and the remainder in trade, corn and 
pork especially, they being the staple commodities of the 

" Monday morning bright and early you might see the 
boys and girls, from twenty-one years old down to five, 
pouring in from every quarter. Mr. Smith was there in 
time. He had secured a chair with a raw hide seat, which 
was very comfortable. He had no other fixtures, save a 
large flat ruler, with a half-dozen long switches hung upon 
a peg in the wall immediately on his right hand. These 
were the signs of his authority, and naturally made the 
backs of the boys cringe and the hands of the girls feel 
blue. Each pupil was examined not as to his progress in 
knowledge, but in reference to the books he brought. All 
went to work, and then, each vying with the other as to the 
noise he could produce, the whole school went into an up- 
roar, and could be heard for half a mile, like so many frogs 
in a pond, some sounding a low, heavy bass, while others, 
keyed to the highest pitch, would carry the treble, tenor, 
or counter. The music of those noisy schools can only be 
appreciated by those who have heard them in their highest 
state of excitement." 

The Presbyterians, Baptists, and Blethodists were the 
principal sects represented in the earliest religious meetings. 
The Presbyterian ministers were men of most learning, and 
usually taught schools of a higher grade, as they could be 

introduced and supported in the more populous centres, 
such as Nashville. The Baptists were generally very plain 
men, who made no pretensions to learning, but were full of 
zeal. In the early times they were nearly all " old-side 
Baptists," and held to the doctrine of particular election. 
Many of their preachers were men of natural gifts, but they 
nearly all had a sing-song mode of preaching which was very 
solemn and affecting. The Blethodist preachers were gen- 
erally termed " circuit-riders." They were usually single 
men, and devoted all their time to traveling and preaching 
on circuits which were hundreds of miles around, and in 
school-houses, private dwellings, in the woods, under brush 
arbors, or in the shade of the forest-trees. The Methodist 
" circuit-rider" might generally be known from his dress 
and equipage. He usually rode a good horse, kept in fine 
condition. His saddle was covered with a dressed bear- 
skin or buffiilo-robe. His saddle-bags were large and well 
filled. He carried his clothing and books along. The idea 
of a boarding-house was not conceived of in those days. 
He kept house in his saddle-bags. He wore a broad- 
brimmed white hat, made of beaver; his coat was round- 
breasted, iind usually made of jeans ; his vest was full and 
long, and forked at the corners, and had broad pocketflaps. 
They had loud voices and sang well. They were a terror 
to sinners, — persecuted, and yet beloved. A grander race 
of men never blessed any country. 

As the country grew older the people began to build 
meetinghouses. Some of the earliest of these were rude 
in the extreme, being built of hewed or round logs, and 
seated with plain benches. " A heavy piece of plank or 
puncheon had holes bored through it with a large auger, 
and four pegs or legs inserted, and these were placed in 
front of the pulpit and occupied by men and women, who 
all sat apart. No backs, no cushions, no kneeling-stools, no 
carpets, — the naked floor and hard seats ! and here the con- 
gregation wpuld often remain patiently while two long ser- 
mons were delivered. Long journeys were taken in those 
days to attend religious services, and the people always 
attended dressed in their best Sunday-clothes. Mothers 
would carry their children for miles to enjoy a gospel feast. 
Many of the poorer classes of young ladies went on foot 
and carried their shoes and stockings in their hands, rolled 
up in cotton handkerchiefs, till they came near the meeting- 
house, when they would turn aside, array their feet, and 
appear in the congregation as neat as a new pin." 

The pioneer preachers never saw an organ or heard a 
church choir. The Presbyterians generally had a leader 
whom they called a clerk, whose business it was to line the 
hymn and lead the music. He was always a layman and a 
person of great consequence. The Baptists usually lined 
the hymn, reading only one line at a time, and this was 
done in a very solemn, sing-song manner. The Methodists 
were noted for their fine singing. The preachers always 
read their own hymns, two lines at a time, and the congre- 
gations joined in singing. " Singing-masters," or teachers 
of vocal music, were early in the country. 

A very common costume in Tennessee among the hunters 
and pioneers and the later volunteer soldiery was the hunt- 
ing-shirt and its appendages, which have now gone entirely 
out of use. It was a picturesque and convenient costume. 



admirably adapted to the comeliness and comfort of the 
farmer, hunter, and pedestrian. The mountain-men in the 
Kevolution, the volunteer soldiery in all the campaigns of 
the West and in the war of 1812, uniformly wore it. Many 
of them did so in the war with Mexico- and in Texas, but 
the volunteer's hunting-shirt is evidently gone out of use. 
Speaking of this costume, Mr. Custis says, — 

"The hunting-shirt, the emblem of the Revolution, is 
now banished from the national military, but still lingers 
among the hunters and pioneers of the far West. This 
national costume wa.s adopted in the outset of the Revolu- 
tion, and was recommended by Washington to the army in 
the most eventful period of the war of independence. It 
was a favorite garb with many of the officers of the line. 
The British beheld these sons of the mountain and tjie for- 
est, thus attired, with wonder and admiration. Their hardy 
looks, their tall, athletic forms, their marching in Indian 
file with the light and noiseless step peculiar to their pur- 
suit of woodland game, but above all, to European eyes, 
their singular and picturesque costume, — the hunting-shirt, 
with its fringes, wampum-belts, leggins and moccasins, the 
tomahawk and knife, — these, with the well-known death- 
dealing aim of these matchless marksmen, created in the 
European military a degree of awe and respect for the 
hunting-shirt which lasted with the war of the Revolution. 
And should not Americans feel proud of the garb, and hail 
it as national, in which their fathers endured such toil and 
privation in the mighty struggle for independence, — the 
march across the wilderness, the triumphs of Saratoga and 
King's Mountain ? But a little while, and, of a truth, the 
hunting-shirt, the venerable emblem of the Revolution, will 
have disappeared from among the Americans, and will be 
found only in museums, like ancient armor, exposed to the 
gaze of the curious." 



First Milit:ii-y Companies formed — Attock of IndiaDS on Freeland's 
Station — Battle at the Bluff — Heroic Conduct of Mrs. James Rob- 
ertson — The Enemy Discomfited — The Killed and Wounded. 

The first determined pursuit of the Indians was in the 
summer of 1780. The details of this affair arc very mea- 
gre, but it is worthy of mention as the first instance of an 
offensive policy on the part of the settlers, the vigorous 
practice of which later on led to the most beneficial results, 
especially when directed against the enemy in his own home. 
At this time the depredations of the Indians had become 
particularly grievous. Aside from the murders committed, 
the loss of live-stock was very heavy, and hard to be borne 
on account of the greiit difiiculties in replacing it, the 
source of supply being several hundred miles distant^ 
Putnam remarks that the death of a milk-cow was a sore 
affliction to the women, next to that of a member of the 
family. The capture of a horse was equally so to the men. 
After a raid by a large party of Cherokees in the vicinity of 
Freeland's Station, in which a number of cattle were killed 

and gashed with knives and.some horses carried ofi", prompt 
pur.suit and punishment of the marauders were determined 
on. For this purpose Col. James Robertson, Alexander 
Buchanan, and eighteen others quickly embodied and gave 
chase. The Indians were overtaken at some point on Duck 
River not now known, but about forty miles south of the 
settlement, where Robertson's party charged and fired upon 
tliem. Several of the Indians were killed and wounded, 
when the rest fled, abandoning the stolen property to the 
possession of the whites, who returned in safety without 
the loss of a man. The result was very creditable, and 
thereafter Col. Robertson had frequently to restrain tlie 
ardor of the settlers in their eagerness to pursue large 
parties of the enemy with an inadequate force. However, 
it was an established rule to pursue on the instant when an 
outrage was committed. In this it was frequently possible 
to inflict some punishment on the depredators, who some- 
times dallied too long to secure the scalp and arms of their 
victims. As a rule, when the Indians fired upon the whites 
in the vicinity of the forts they ran off at once and easily 
made their escape in the thickets of cane which covered 
over the face of the country. It may be stated in this 
connection that the Indians exercised the greatest economy 
in the use of powder, putting in a very small charge, other- 
wise their warfare would have been much more destructive. 
They rarely trusted themselves to fire beyond fifty yards, 
while the average backwoodsman could use his rifle with 
deadly precision at twice or thrice that distance. They 
frequently lost their lives, or were placed at disadvantage, 
by attempting to use the tomahawk as a substitute for a few 
grains of powder. 


During the first year of occupation a number of settle- 
ments had been made or projected, extending along the 
Cumberland River for the distance of quite forty miles. 
Many of these stations were small in extent, poorly con- 
structed, and insufficiently manned, as the result soon proved. 
The occupants were more engrossed with the selection of 
good locations, preferably near a salt-spring, than the thought 
that such an intrusion on the favorite hunting-ground of 
the Cherokee and other Indians would provoke serious and 
deadly opposition. Some of them, Col. John Donelson 
among the number, neglected even to erect houses, but 
passed most of the season in the half-faced structures known 
as hunters' camps. The consequences of this policy of 
neglect and division of strength were fearfully apparent 
before the close of the year. The beginning of the year 
1781 found the entire body of settlers confined to three 
forts, — namely, Robertson's or the Blufi", Eaton's, two miles 
below on the north side of the river, and Freeland's, about 
a mile to the northwest of the first, — forced into these 
places for refuge from the rifle and tomahawk of their 
merciless foes. These results, so flattering to their arms, 
emboldened the Cherokees and their allies to attempt the 
extermination of the survivors, now greatly reduced from 
their original number by casualties and the departure of 
many families to the settlements in Kentucky and the 

But to accomplish this result required a larger force than 



had hitherto invaded the settlements, arid the exercise of 
bravery and entei'prise sufficient to overcome fortified posts 
held by resolute men fighting in defense of their families 
and the fertile country they had chosen for habitation. In 
the execution of this plan Freeland's Station was the first 
to receive the blow, on account of its situation and compa- 
rative weakness. That the attack was not successful was 
due to a want of concert and disregard of discipline which 
characterize all barbarous races in enterprises of this char- 
acter. It appears that there were two parties, each num- 
bering between fifty and a hundred warriors, marching to 
the attack of the place ; but the first detachment, on its arri- 
val discovering the weakness of the garrison, determined, 
in its eagerness to win the prize, to strike without awaiting 
the advent of the other. 

This station was erected by George, James, and Jacob 
Freeland on the spot afterwards occupied by the residence 
of Dr. McGavock. It was simply a stockade thrown around 
the houses of the occupants, and probably bastioned, as many 
of them were, in order to render more eifective the fire of a 
small force of defenders. The gate was secured by a chain 
which fastened on the inside. On the night of the attack, 
Jan. 15, 1781, there seems to have been no apprehension 
of danger, as there was evidently no sentinel whose duty it 
was to watch over the safety of the place. The garrison 
consisted of eleven men and some families, including Col. 
James Robertson, whose presence proved a most fortunate 
circumstance, and was occasioned by the fact that on his 
arrival that day at the Blufi' from the Kentucky settle- 
ments he learned that his family was at Freeland's. His 
journey through the wilderness had been full of perils, and 
the narration of this and the detail of home affairs by Mrs. 
Robertson had kept him awake until a late hour. About 
midnight his keen ear, trained to wonderful acuteness by 
long practice on the border, detected a movement of the 
chain at the gate, and on rising to examine into the cause, 
he discovered the gate thrown open and a large body of 
Indians crowding into the inclosure. He instantly raised 
the cry of alarm and awakened the inmates of the houses 
to a sense of their danger. Finding they were discovered, 
the assailants raised their terrible war-whoop to heighten 
the effect of surprise and chill the spirit of resistance. As 
soon as possible the men of the garrison sprang to their 
guns and opened a straggling fire upon the throng. Un- 
fortunately one of the houses occupied by Maj. Lucas and 
several others, including a negro servant of Col. Robertson, 
was poorly fitted for defense, owing to the want of chinking 
and daubing in the cracks between the logs. Maj. Lucas 
realizing this rushed out to obtain better shelter, but was 
almost instantly killed. The moon was shining brightly, 
and the assailants, finding that they could not force an en- 
trance into the houses now without great loss, quickly re- 
treated through the gate, whence they opened a hot fire on 
the house from which Maj. Lucas had so rashly issued, and 
which alone on inspection afterwards was found to have 
received over five hundred bullets. Col. Robertson in a 
loud voice animated and directed the defense, charging the 
men to keep from before the port-holes while loading. He 
was enabled at one time in the conflict to take close aim at 
a fellow's head, and he declared his belief that he had got 

bis man, which was confirmed the next day by the discov- 
ery of the body of an Indian shot througli the brain. He 
had been carried about a mile and covered with leaves. 
The din of conflict soon awakened the inhabitants at the 
Bluff, and a small swivel was fired at that place to convey 
to the besieged a knowledge that their situation was appre- 

The Indians kept up the fire until near daylight, when 
they withdrew out of range. Only about a half-dozen 
rounds to the man had been fired from the houses, but 
evidently to good purpose, from the numerous trails of 
blood left behind in the retreat. The occupants of the 
unfinished house were the only sufferers, several being 
wounded and the negro killed. Soon after daylight Capt. 
John Rains with a small party from the Bluff reached the 
scene, and following the trail of the Indians for some dis- 
tance di.scovored the arrival of a second detachment. No 
further attempt, however, was made on this or the other 
two stations, but the ones that had been deserted were 
visited and burnt, the stock killed, provisions destroyed, 
trails waylaid, and the game driven off for miles in every 
direction in order to make its pursuit more hazardous to 
the hunters who were compelled to rely for food on this 
source of supply. 

STATION, APRIL 2, 1781. 

Robertson's Station, or the Bluff, as it was more usually 
designated, was, from its central position and the number 
of inhabitants congregated in the place, the most important 
of the Cumberland settlements. It was fortified with much 
care on the stockade plan, and so situated that water from 
a spring near by could be conducted in troughs within the 
inclosure. The site was immediately on the bluff of the 
river, and partly covered the present debouchement of 
Church Street, in Nashville. The main building in the 
inclosure, not erected at this time probably, was built of 
stone, two stories high, the northern face being on a line 
with the southern boundary of Church Street. The regula- 
tions for its safety were carried out with much care, watches 
being constantly maintained over the boats in the river 
and from a block-house on the land side. Since the attack 
on Freeland's all who ventured out were compelled to use 
great caution on account of the presence of prowling par- 
ties of Indians in the vicinity. Only a few days before 
the engagement at the Bluff Col. Samuel Barton, who was 
out endeavoring to get some beef cattle into the fort, was 
wounded in the wrist about where Wilson's Branch crosses 
College Street. On the night of April 1st an Indian was 
discovered spying the premises and was shot at by James 
Menifee, the sentinel in the block-house, when he withdrew. 
Between daylight and sunrise the next morning two others 
approached, and firing their guns at the fort ran off out of 
range, where they halted and began leisurely to reload, 
waving their hands in a bantering manner. It had always 
been the practice of the settlers to pursue under such cir- 
cumstances, and although an ambuscade was feared by 
some it was determined to resent the insult at all hazards. 
Thereupon a party of twenty-one quickly mounted their 
horses and dashed through the gate in pursuit. Capt. 



Leiper led tlie advance and Col. Robertson the main body. 
The names of thirteen only of this daring band of salliers 
have been handed down by tradition, and are as follows : 
Col. James Robertson, Capt. Leiper, Peter Gill, John 
Kesenger, Alexander Buchanan, George Kennedy, I. Ken- 
nedy, Zachariah White, James Menifee, Kasper Blansker 
(usually pronounced Blanscor), Isaac Lucas, Joseph Moon- 
shaw, and Edward Swanson. When the advance reached 
the present locality of Broad Street, about its intersection 
with College, a few of the enemy were seen making a stand 
at the Branch a short distance off. The whites immediately 
dismounted for battle, but before they could secure their 
horses a force of about three hundred warriors rose from 
the thickets along the Branch and poured into them a 
deadly volley. They returned the fire with spirit and to 
good elFect. In the mean time another large body of the 
enemy, which had taken post before daylight in the cedar 
and privet bushes which thickly covered the present site 
of Cherry Street embraced between Church and Broad, 
ran from their concealment after the horsemen had passed 
and extended their line rapidly in the direction of the fort 
and the river. The war-whoop of these savages in their 
rear at once conveyed to the sallying-party and also to their 
fiiends in the fort the desperate nature of their situation, 
and excited in all the gravest fears for their safety. They 
began at once their retreat, resolutely bringing off all of 
their wounded who could be assisted. Fortunately for the 
survivors their horses had broken back in the direction of 
the fort when the fight began, but on reaching the inter- 
posing line they swerved off to its right to escape, when 
large numbers of the Indians, unable to resist the tempta- 
tion, quit their places and hurried in pursuit of them. 
Into the gap thus opportunely left the retreating whites 
now pressed, hotly pursued from the rear and fired upon 
from different directions. 

At this juncture another most fortunate circumstance 
occurred to favor their escape. There were great numbers 
of dogs gathered into the fort, trained to face any danger 
at bidding, and on hearing the well-known reports of their 
masters' rifles in the vale below they were seized with an 
uncontrollable frenzy, and evinced by loud cries their dis- 
position to join in the conflict. Mrs. Robertson, the wife 
of Col. James Robertson, who was watching gun in hand 
with intense interest the varying changes of the battle, on 
discovering the snare into which her friends had fallen, and 
fearing that they would all be lost, now urged the sentinel 
to open the gate and hiss on the dogs. These animals on 
being released flew at once at that part of the Indian line 
still in place, and attacked it with a fury and persistence 
probably never before witnessed. It was an anomaly in- 
deed in warfare, as dogs are usually much afraid of the fire 
of guns. Such an onset, however, could not be despised, 
and forced the enemy to empty their pieces and resort to 
their tomahawks in self-defense. Favored by this unex- 
pected diversion, the little band of whites now hastened on, 
and all reached the fort in safety except Isaac Lucas. He 
had reached a point in rifle-range of the place when he 
fell with a broken thigh. He had just finished loading his 
gun as he ran, and when he fell an Indian rushed upon 
him with the purpose of securing his scalp. Lucas took 

deliberate aim as he lay on the ground and shot his pur- 
suer dead in his tracks. He then dragged himself a short 
distance to shelter from the Indian fire, reloaded his rifle, 
and disposed his tomahawk for a desperate resistance ; seve- 
ral determined efforts were made by the friends of the dead 
man to carry off his body and dispatch Lucas, but were 
frustrated by the vigilance of the garrison, who kept up a 
warm fire in that quarter. Lucas was carried into the fort 
after the enemy withdrew out of range, and soon recovered. 
Edward Swanson, another of the salliers, was overtaken '^ 
within twenty yards of the gate by a large Indian, who 
pressed the muzzle of his gun against his back and at- 
tempted to shoot, but it foiled fire. The Indian then struck 
Swanson heavily on the shoulder with the barrel, making 
him drop bis gun. Swanson now turned, and seizing his 
antagonist's gun by the muzzle, endeavored to wrench it 
from his hands. A desperate struggle ensued for the pos- 
session of the weapon, which ended at length in the Indian's 
favor, when by a heavy blow on the head he felled the 
white man to his all-fours. The combatants had been so 
closely engaged that the friends of Swanson could not fire 
from the fort without danger to both ; but at this instant, 
when the Indian was in the act of disengaging his toma- 
hawk to give the finishing blow, old Mr. John Buchanan 
rushed through the gate and firing quickly, mortally 
wounded him. Thereupon the savage, gritting his teeth 
with rage, retired to a stump near by where he fell. Swan- 
son, assisted by his deliverer, made his way into tiie fort. 
During the night the body of the Indian was dragged off 
by his comrades, and was found several days later buried 
on College Hill, at the place afterwards occuj)ied by the 
residence of the Rev. Mr. Hume.* No attempt was made 
to carry off the one killed by Swanson, as he was probably 
scalped by the whites, and this, according to Indian theology, 
rendered him unfit for burial. The loss of the scalp was 
supposed to be sufficient to debar the victim from the 
" happy hunting-grounds," no matter how bravely he may 
have fought. Hence they always souglit at great risk to 
consign an enemy to the dominions of the bad spirit 'oy 
practicing this mutilation upon him. 

Of the sallying-party seven were killed, according to the 
statement of the Rev. John Carr, who lived in the pioneer 
period. These were Capt. Leiper, Peter Gill, John Kesen- 
ger, Alexander Buchanan, George Kennedy, Zachariah 
White, and J. Kennedy. James Menifee, Kasper Mans- 
ker, Isaac Lucas, Joseph Moonshaw, and others were 
wounded. Putnam's account says that five were killed, but 
no names are given. In an obituary notice of Gen. James 
Robertson, published in the Nashville Clarion in 1813, the 
writer states that only thirteen returned alive to the fort, 
which would put the number of killed at eight. Very few 
of the horses were captured ; most of them, after a hot 
chase across Capitol Hill and about the Sulphur-Bottom, 
broke by their pursuers and reached the gate of the fort, 
into which they were admitted. At ten o'clock a.m. the 
enemy withdrew from the contest, but returned at night 
and fired a great many shots at the walls. It was under- 

•■•' On Market Street, opposite the entranee to the Vanderbllt Medi- 
cal College. 



stood that tins party was a reinforcement which had arrived 
too late to take part in the morning's battle. At one time 
during the night a knot of several hundred were seen col- 
lecting about the present intersection of Church and College 
Streets, when it was proposed to fire the swivel aftheni. 
Some objected on account of the scarcity of ammunition, 
but a contribution of powder, slugs, and pieces of iron 
having been made up, the piece was brought into position 
and fired. In the stillness of night the report and flash of 
the little swivel proved very creditable, and more than 
answered expectations. The party decamped with such 
haste that they left several articles of value behind. Not 
another shot was fired at the fort after this, nor was it 
again directly attacked during the existence of hostilities. 
Soon after the swivel was fired the one at Eaton's gave an 
answering signal, and in the course of the night a small 
force came from that place to the opposite bank, where, on 
making its presence known, boats were dispatched, and it 
was quickly transferred to assist in the further defense of 
the place if needed. Early next morning scouts went out 
and ascertained that the Indians had gone westerly and 
crossed Richland Creek. The number of their killed was 
never definitely ascertained. The bodies of the whites 
were found stripped and scalped. Thus ended an expedi- 
tion of six or seven hundred Cherokecs, the details of 
which were planned with much judgment and executed 
with remarkable secrecy. The proverbial want of dis- 
cipline with the savages at the critical moment alone saved 
the party which rashly sallied out to attack them from 
total destruction. In the light of subsequent events the 
death of Col. Robertson would have been a public calamity, 
which at this juncture might have operated most unfavor- 
ably on the interests of the Cumberland settlements. In 
any event the loss of so many brave men at one fell swoop 
would have been a most serious blow, and liable to have 
been followed by a train of worse disasters. As Mrs. Rob- 
ertson pertinently remarked, the Indians' fear of dogs and 
love of horses proved the salvation of the whites on this 
occasion. It is due to the memory of the pioneer women 
of Nashville to state that in the midst of the terrible ex- 
citement succeeding the repulse of their husbands, brothers, 
and friends, and the heart-rending prospect of their total 
destruction, they stood gun and axe in hand at the gate of 
the fort, determined to die in its defense if occasion de- 
manded it. 



Civil Government among tlie First Needs of the Settlers — A Volun- 
tary Compaet formed — Election of Judges — Copy of Articles of 
Agreement — List of tiie Signers — Additional Articles — Interesting 
Quotations from the Records of the Notables — Treaty with the 

The first civil government upon the Cumberland or in 
Middle Tennessee was a voluntary compact entered into by 
the settlers on the first day of May, 1780, with additional 
articles adopted on the 13th. This was an object of their 

first care as soon as they had arrived in the country and had 
provided themselves with temporary shelter and a few 
necessary articles of subsistence. They had not been with- 
out an example of the benefits of such a voluntary associa- 
tion for mutual protection, and for the restraint and punish- 
ment of lawless itdventurers who might come among them, in 
a similar organization upon the Watauga ; and now that they 
had immigrated still farther into the wilderness, and still 
more remote from any protection which the civil arm of the 
State could immediately throw over them, they were dis- 
posed to organize and administer a local government of their 
own. But they designed that this government should exist 
only till such time as the State government could be effi- 
ciently extended over them. 

The articles entered into provided that the several 
stations should be entitled to representatives as follows : 
"From Nashborough, 3." 

"From Kasper's, 2." (Kasper Mansker's Lick.) 
"From Bledsoe's, 1.'' (Now Castilian Springs.) 
" From Asher's, 1." (Station Camp Creek.) 
" From Freeland's, 1." (Horticultural Garden.) 
" From Eaton's, 2." (East Nashville.) 
"From Fort Union, 1." (Where Haysborougli was.) 
"Which said persons, or a majority of them, after being 
bound by the solemnity of an oath to do equal and impar- 
tial justice between all contending parties," etc., shall be 
empowered and competent to settle all controversies relative 
to location and improvement of lands ; all other matters and 
questions of dispute among the settlers ; protecting the 
reasonable claims of those who may have returned for their 
families ; providing implements of husbandry and food for 
such as might arrive without such necessaries ; making 
especial provisions for widows and orphans whose husbands 
or fathers may die or be killed by the savages ; guarantee- 
ing equal rights, mutual protection, and impartial justice; 
pledging themselves most solemnly and'sacredly to promote 
the peace, happiness, and well-being of the country ; to 
repress vice and punish crime. This is a summary of what 
they resolved and ordained.* 

Certainly no better evidence could be given of the intel- 
ligence, patriotism, and foresight of the pioneers. " One of 
the best elements," says Putnam, "of our free, popular 
government was expressly set forth in the compact of gov- 
ernment at Nashborough, namely : the authority of the 
jieoph ; a power reserved to the people at the various 
stations to remove their judge or judges and other officers 
for unfaithfulness or misconduct, and to elect others to fill 
such vacancies. 

" This tribunal exercised the prerogatives of government 
to their fullest extent, with the single specified exception 
of the infliction of capital punishment. They called out 
the militia of the stations to ' repel or pursue the enemy,' 
impressed horses for such service as public exigency might 
demand, levied fines, paj'able in money or provisions, adju- 
dicated causes, entered up judgments and awarded exe- 
cutions, granted letters of administration upon estates of 
deceased persons, taking bonds payable to ' Col. James Rob- 
ertson, Chairman of the Committee,' etc. 

■-:•- Putnam, p. 90. \ 



Mr. Putnam, by the discovery of the ori2;inal articles of 
association by which this government of the Notables was 
formed, was enabled to add, among other results of his 
careful research, a very valuable and interesting paper to 
this portion of the history of Teimessee. He precedes its 
introduction into his " History of Middle Tennessee" with 
the following remarks : 

'' Much has been written and published respecting that 
' hnper'mm in iinperiu,' the State of Franklin, and its dis- 
tinguished founder and Grovernor; but here wo recover the 
history of a State in every respect and aspect as peculiar as 
that, six years earlier in date, in active existence for several 
years, the president or chairman of which was ever the 
friend of Sevier, — they par nobile/ratrum, — but of which 
the historians of Tennessee have had but a very limited 
knowledge. Judge Haywood alludes to it on page 126, 
and others have only copied what he there says, and thus 
the most interesting incidents in Middle Tennessee history 
have hitherto remained unknown and unpublished. 

" It soon became manifest that there was much need for 
such a government, that it would have much to engage its 
attention both in the civil and military departments. Tiie 
people at the various stations were urged by their sense of 
duty, and some apprehension of mischief from the Indians, 
to elect the number of Notables to which they were en- 
titled that the contemplated government might be put 
promptly into operation, and suitable directions given for 
the election of military officers and the equipment of ' spies 
and sharpshooters.' 

" The alarm was, ' Indians about!' In this very month 
of May they approached the strong defenses of Eaton's 
Station, and within sight and in open day shot down Mr. 
Porter and James Mayfield. Shortly thereafter they killed 
Jennings, opposite the first island above Nashville; and near 
the same time and place they killed Ned. Carver, whose 
wife and two children narrowly escaped and reached the 
Bluif. In a day or two thereafter they killed William 
Neely and captured his daughter." 


The first page is lost, and the second torn and defaced, 
but we can read distinctly as follows, supplying in brackets 
lost words : 

"... property of right shall be determined as soon [as] 
conveniently may be, in the following manner : The free 
men of this country over the age [of twenty] one years 
shall immediately, or as soon as may [be convenient], pro- 
ceed to elect or choose twelve conscientious and [deserving] 
persons, from or out of the different sections, that is [to] 
say: From Nashborough, ^/u-ee; Gasper's, too; Bledsoe's, 
one; Asher's, one; Stone's River, one; Freeland's, one; 
Eaton's, too; Fort Union, o/ie. Which said persons, or a 
majority of them, after being bound by the solemnity of an 
oath to do equal and impartial justice between all contend- 
ing parties, according to the best of their skill and judgment, 

'•^This paper contaiDS also additional articles adopted May 13th, the 
date at which the signatures were added. 


having due re[gard] to the regulations of the Land Office 
herein established, shall be competent judges of tiie matter, 
and . . . hearing the allegations of both parties and [their] 
witnesses as to the facts alleged, or otherwise ... as to 
the truth of the case, shall have [power] to decide the con- 
troversies, and determine who is of right entitled to an entry 
for such land so in dispute, when said determination or de- 
cision shall be forever bind[ing] and conclusive against the 
future claim of the party against whom such judgment 
[shall be rendered]. And the entry-taker shall make a 
[record thereof] in his book accordingly, and the entry 
. . . tending party so cost shall ... if it had never been 
made, and the land in dispute ... to the person in whose 
favor such judgment shall . . . 

"... in case of the death, removal, or absence of any of 
the judges so to be chosen, or their refusing to act, the station 
or stations to which such person or persons belong, or was 
chosen from, shall proceed to elect another or others in his 
or their stead ; which person or persons so chosen, after 
being sworn, as aforesaid, to do equal and impartial justice, 
shall have full power and authority to proceed to business, 
and act in all disputes respecting the premises, as if they 
had been originally chosen at the first election. 

" That the entry-book shall be kept fair and open by 
. . . person ... to be appointed by said Richard Hen- 
derson . . . chose, and every entry for land numbered and 
dated, and . . . order leaving any blank leaves or spaces 
... to the inspection of the said twelve judges, or . . . 
of them, at all times. . . . 

" That whereas many persons have come to this country 
without implements of husbandry, and from other circum- 
stances are obliged to return without making a crop, and 
[intend] removing out this fall or early next spring, and it 
. . . reason . . . such should have the pre-emp[tion] . . . 
of such places as they may have chosen . . . the purpose 
of residence, therefore it is ... to be taken for all such, 
for as much land as they are enlitled to from their head- 
rights, which said lands shall be reserved for the particular 
person in whose name they shall be entered, or their heirs ; 
provided such persons shall remove to this country and 
take possession of the respective place or piece of land so 
chosen or entered, or shall send a laborer or laborers and a 
white person in his or her stead to perform the same, on 
or before the first day of May, in the year one thousand 
seven hundred and eighty-one ; and also provided such 
land so chosen and entered for is not entered and claimed 
by some person who is an inhabitant, and shall raise a crop 
of corn the present year at some station or place convenient 
to the general settlement in this country. But it is fully to 
be understood that those who are actually at this time 
inhabitants of this country shall not be debarred of their 
choice or claim on account of the rights of any such absent 
or returning person or persons. It is further proposed and 
agreed that no claim or title to any land whatsoever shall 
be set up by any person in consequence of any mark or 
former improvement, unless the same be entered with the 
entry-taker within twenty days from the date of this asso- 
ciation and agreement; and that when any person here- 
after shall mark or improve land or lands for himself, such 
mark or improvement shall not avail him or be deemed an 



evidence of prior right unless the same be entered with the 
entry-talker in thirty days . . . from the time of such mark 
or improvement ; but no other person shall be entitled to 
such lands so as aforesaid to be reserved . . . consequence 
of any purchase, gift, or otherwise. 

" That if the entry-taker to be appointed shall neglect 
or refuse to perform his duty, or be found by the said 
judges, or a majority of them, to have acted fraudulently, 
to the prejudice of any person whatsoever, such entry- 
taker shall be immediately removed from his office, and the 
book taken out of his possession by the said judges until 
another shall be appointed to act in his room. 

" That as often as the people in general are dissatisfied 
with the doings of the judges or triers so to be chosen, 
they may call a new election at any of the said stations 
and elect others in their stead, having due respect to the 
number now agreed to be elected at each election, which 
persons so to be chosen shall have the same power with 
those in whose room or place they shall or may be chosen 
to act. 

" That as no consideration money for the lands on Cum- 
berland River, within the claim of the said Richard Hen- 
derson and Company, and which is the subject of the asso- 
ciation, is demanded or expected by the said Company until 
a satisfactory and indisputable title can be made, so we 
think it reasonable and just that the twenty-six pounds 
thirteen shillings and four pence, current money, per hun- 
dred acres, the price proposed by the said Richard Hender- 
son, shall be paid according to the value of money on the 
first day of January last, being the time when the price was 
made public [and] settlement encouraged thereon by said 
Henderson ; and the said Richard Henderson on his part 
does hereby agree that in case of the rise or appreciation of 
money from that . . . an abatement shall be made in the 
sum according to its raised or appreciated value. 

" That where any person shall remove to this country 
with intent to become an inhabitant, and depart this life, 
either by violence or in the natural way, before he shall 
have performed the requisites necessary to obtain lands, the 
child or children of such deceased person shall be entitled, 
in his or her room, to such quantity of land as such person 
would have been entitled to in case he or she had lived to 
obtain a grant in their own name ; and if such death be oc- 
casioned by the Indians, the said Henderson doth promise 
and agree that the child or children shall have as much as 
amounts to their head-rights gratis, surveyor's and other 
incidental fees excepted. 

" And whereas, from our remote situation and want of 
proper officers for the administration of justice, no regular 
proceedings at law can be had for the punishment of of- 
fenses and the attainment of right, it is therefore agreed 
that until we can be relieved by government from the many 
evils and inconveniences arising therefrom, the judges or 
triers to be appointed as before directed, when qualified, 
shall be and are hereby declared a. proper court or jurisdic- 
tion for the recovery of any debt or damage; or where the 
cause of action or complaint has arisen, or hereafter shall 
commence, for anything done or to be done among our- 
selves in this our settlement on Cumberland aforesaid, or in 
our passage hither, where the laws of our country could not 

be executed or damages repaired in any other way ; that is 
to say, in all cases where the debt or damages or demand 
does or shall not exceed one hundred dollars, any three of the 
said judges or triers shall be competent to make a court and 
finally decide the matter in controversy ; but if for a larger 
sum, and either party shall be dissatisfied with the judg- 
ment or decision of such court, they may have an appeal to 
the whole twelve judges or triers, in which case nine mem- 
bers shall be deemed a full court, whose decision, if seven 
agree in one opinion, the matter in dispute shall be final, 
and their judgment carried into execution in such manner 
and by such person or persons as they may appoint ; and the 
said courts, respectively, shall have full power to tax such 
costs as they may think just and reasonable, to be levied 
and collected with the debt or damage so to be awarded. 

" And it is further agreed that a majority of the said 
judges, triers, or general arbitrators shall have power to 
punish in their discretion, having respect to the laws of our 
country, all off'enses against the peace, misdemeanors, and 
those criminals, or of a capital nature, provided such court 
does not proceed with execution so far as to afi"ect life or 
member ; and in ease any should be brought before them 
whose crime is or shall be dangerous to the State, or for 
which the benefit of clergy is taken away by law, and suffi- 
cient evidence or proof of the fact or fiicts can probably be 
made, such court, or a majority of the members, shall and 
may order and direct him, her, or them to be safely bound 
and sent under a strong guard to the place where the offense 
was or shall be committed, or where legal trial of such of- 
fense can be had, which shall accordingly be done, and the 
reasonable expense attending the discharge of this duty as- 
certained by the court, and paid by the inhabitants in such 
proportion as shall hereafter be agreed on for that purpose. 

" That as this settlement is in its infancy, unknown to 
government, and not included within any county within 
North Carolina, the State to which it belongs, so as to de- 
rive the advantages of those wholesome and salutary laws 
for the protection and benefit of its citizens, we find our- 
selves constrained from necessity to adopt this temporary 
method of restraining the licentious, and supplying, by 
unanimous consent, the blessings flowing from a just and 
equitable government, declaring and promising that no ac- 
tion or complaint shall be hereafter instituted or lodged in 
any court of record within this State, or elsewhere, for any- 
thing done or to be done in consequence of the proceedings 
of the said Judges or General Arbitrator so to be choseu 
and established by this our A.ssociation. 

" That the well-being of this country entirely depends, 
under Divine Providence, on unanimity of sentiment and 
concurrence in measures ; and as clashing interests and 
opinions without being under some restraint will most cer- 
tainly produce confusion, discord, and almost certain ruin, 
so we think it our duty to associate, and hereby form our- 
selves into one society for the benefit of present and future 
settlers ; and until the full and proper exercise of the laws 
of our country can be in use, and the powers of government 
exerted among us, loe do most solemnly and sacredly de- 
clare and promise each other that we will faithfully and 
punctually adhere to, perform, and abide by this our Associ- 
ation, and at all times, if need be, compel by our united 



force a due obedience to these our rules and regulations. 
In testimony whereof we have hereunto subscribed our 
names in token of our entire approbation of the measures 


" Richarti Henderson. 

Natbauiel Hart. 

"Williiuu H. Mooro. 

Samuel Phariss. 

John Donclson, C. 

Gasper Mansker. 

John Caffory. 

Juhn Bhickciiiore, Sr, 

John Blai'kem ire, Jr. 

Jaiues Shaw. 

Samnel Deson. 

Samuel Martin. 

James Buchanan. 

Solomon Turpin. 

Isaac Kentfro. 

Robert Cartwright. 

Hugh Rogan. 

Joseph Morton. 

William Woods. 

David Mitchell. 

Bavid Shelton. 

Spill Coleman. 

Samuel McMurray. 

P. Henderson. 
-Edward Bradley. 
_JEdward Bradley, Jr. 
"James Bradley. 

Michael Stoner. 

Joseph Mosely. 

Henry Guthrie. 

Francis Armstrong. 
- Kobert Lucas. 

James Robertson. 

George Freoland. 

John Tucker. 

Peter Catron. 

Francis Catron. 

John Dunham. 

Isaac Johnson. 

Adam Kelar. 

Thomas Burgess. 

William Green. 

Moses Webb. 

Absalom Thompson. 

John McVay. 

James Thomson. 

Charles Thomson. 

Martin Hardini 

Elijah Thomson. 

Andrew Thomson. 

William Seaton. 

Edward Thomelu. -;f> 

Isaac Drake. ■ 

Jonathan Jennings. 

Zachariah Green. 

Andrew Lucas. 

James X Patrick, 

Richard Gross. 

John Drake. 

John HoUaday. 

Frederic Stump (in 

William Hood. 

John Boyd. 

Jacob Stump. 

Henry Hardin. 

Richard Stanton. 

Sampson Sawyer. 

William Gowan. 

John Wilfort. 

James Espey. 

Michael Kiraberlin. 

John Cowan. 

Francis Hodge. 

William Fleming. 

Jnmes Leeper. 

Gejrge Leepe:-. 

Daniel Muugie. 

Patrick McCutchen. 

Samuel McCutchen. 

AVilliam Price. 

Henry Kerbey, 

Joseph Jackson. . 

Daniel Ragsdell. 

Michael Shaver. 

Samuel WilUon. 

John Reid. 

Joseph Dougherty. 

Charles Cameron. 

W. Russell, Jr. — 

Hugh Simpson. 

Samuel Moore. 

Joseph Denton. 

Arthur McAdoo. 

Nathaniel Henderson. 

John Evans. 

Wm. Bailey Smith. 
^ — Peter Luney. 

James Cain. 

Daniel Johnson. 

Daniel Jarrot. 

Jesse Maxey. 

Noah Hawthorn. 

Charles McCartney. 

John Anderson. 

William McWhirter. 

Barnet Hainey. 

Richard Sims. 

Titus Murray. 

James Hamilton. 

Henry Dougherty. 

Zach. White. 

Burgess White. 

William Galley. 
- James Ray. 

William Ray. 

Perley Grimes. 

Samuel White. 

Daniel Hogan. 

Thomas Hines. 
"^'^obert Goodloe. 

Thomas W. Alston. 

William Barret. 

Thomas Shannon. 

James Moore. 

Samuel Moore. 
Elijah Moore. 
John Moore. 
Andrew Ewin. \/' 
Ebenezer Titus. 
Mark Robertson. 
John Montgomery. 
Charles Campbell. 
William Overall. 
John Turner. 
Nathaniel Overall. 

John McMurty. 
D'd AVilliams. 
John McAdams. 
Samson Williams. 
Thomas Thompson. 
Martin King. 
AVilliam Logan. ■" 
John Alstead. 
Nicholas Counrod. 
Evin Evins. ^ 
John Thomas. 
Joshua Thomas. 
David Rouasavall. 
Isaac Rounsavall. 
James Crocket. 
Andrew Crocket. 
Russell Gower. 
John Shannon. 
Jonathan Drake. 
Benjamin Drake. 
John Drake. 
Mereday Rains. 
Richard Dodge. 
James Green. 
James Cooke. 
Daniel Johnston. 
George Miner.,-- 
George Green. 
William Moore. 
Jacob Cimberlin. 
Robert Dockerty. 
John Crow. 
William Summers. 
Lesois Frize. (?) 
Amb's Mauldin. 
Morton Mauldin. 
John Dunham. 
Archelaus Allaway. 
Samuel Hayes. 
Isaac Johnson. 
Thomas Edmeston. 
Ezekiel Norris. 
AVilliam Farwell. 
William McMurray. 
John Cordey. 
Nicholas Tramal. J 
Haydon Wells. 
Daniel Ratleft. 
John Callaway. 
John Picake. 
Willis Pope. 
Silas Harlan. 
James Lynn. 
Thomas Cox. 
Hugh Leeper. 
Harmon Consellea. 

Humphrey Hogan. 

James Foster. 
William Morris. 
Nathaniel Bidlack. 
A. Tatom. 
William Hinson. 
Edmund Newton. 
Jonathan Green. 
Edward Lucas. ..^^ 
Philip Alston. 
John Phillips. 
George Flynn, 

John Hobson. 
Ralph Wilson. 
James Givens. 
James Harrod. 
Jatnes Buchanan, Sr 
William Geioch. 
Samuel Shelton. 
John Gibson. 
Robert Espey. 
George Espey. 

Patrick Quiglcy. 
Josias Gamble. 
Samuel Newell. 
Joseph Read. 
David I\IaxwelI. 
Thomas Jofriss. 
Joseph Dunnagin. 
John Phelps. 
Andrew Bushoney. 

Daniel Jarrott. 
John Owens. .-^' 
James Freoland. 
Thomas Molloy. 
Isaac Lindsay. 
Isaac Bledsoe. 
Jacob Castleman. 
George Power. 
James Russell." 


The following additional resolutions and further articles 
were entered into at Nashborough on the 13th day of May, 
1780, to wit: 

" That all young men over the age of sixteen years and 
able to perform militia duty shall be considered as having 
a full right to enter for and obtain lands in their own 
Barnes, as if they were of full age ; and in that case not 
be recovered in the family of his father, mother, or master, 
so as to avail them of any land on their account. 

" That where any person shall mark or improve land or 
lands, with intent to set up a claim thereto, such person 
shall write or mark in legible characters the initial letters 
of his name at least, together witli the day of the month 
and year on which he marked or improved the same, at the 
spring or most notorious part of the land, on some conve- 
nient tree or other durable substance, in order to notify the 
intentions to all such as may inquire or examine; and in 
case of dispute with respect to priority of right, proof of 
such transaction shall be made by the oath of some indif- 
ferent witness, or no advantage or benefit shall be derived 
from such mark or improvement; and in all cases where 
priority of mark or occupancy cannot be ascertained, ac- 
cording to the regulations and prescriptions herein proposed 
and agreed to, the oldest or first entry in the oflfice to be 
opened in consequence of this Association shall have the 
preference, and the lands granted accordingly. 

''It is further proposed and agreed that the entry-office 
shall be opened at Nashborough on Friday the 19th of 
May, instant, and kept from thenceforward at the same 
place, unless otherwise directed by any future Convention 
of the people in general or their representatives. 

" That the entry-taker shall and may demand and re- 
ceive twelve dollars for each entry to be made in his book, 
in manner before directed, and shall give a certificate 
thereof if required ; and also may take the same fees for 
every caveat or counter-claim to any lands before entered ; 
and in all cases where a caveat is to be tried, in manner be- 
fore directed, the entry-book shall be laid before the said 
Committee of Judges, Triers, or General Arbitrators for 
their inspection and information, and their judgment upon 
the matter in dispute fairly entered, as before directed; 
which said Court or Committee is also to keep a fair and 
distinct journal or minutes of all their proceedings, as well 
with respect to lands as other matters which may come be- 
fore them in consequence of these our resolutions. 

" It is also firmly agreed and resolved that no person 
shall be permitted to make an entry for any land with the 
said entry-taker, or permitted to hold the same, unless 
such person shall subscribe his name and conform to this 
our Association, Confederacy, and General Governmentj 



unless it be for persons who have returned home and fire 
permitted to have lands reserved for their use until the 
first day of May next, in which case entries may be made 
for such absent persons, according to the true meaning of 
this writing, without their personal presence, but shall be- 
come utterly void if the particular person or persons for 
whom such entry shall be made should refuse or neglect to 
perform the same as soon as conveniently may be after their 
return, and before the said first day of May in the year 

" Whereas the frequent and dangerous incursions of the 
Indians, and almost daily massacre of some of our inhabi- 
tants, renders it absolutely necessary for our safety and 
defense that due obedience be paid to our respective officers 
elected and to be elected at the several stations or settle- 
ments to take command of the men or militia at such fort 
or station, — 

" It is further agreed and resolved that when it shall 
be adjudged necessary and expedient by such commanding 
officers to draw out the militia of any fort or station to 
pursue or repulse the enemy, the said officer shall have 
power to call out such and so many of his men as he may 
judge necessary, and in case of disobedience may inflict 
such fine as he in his discretion shall think just and reason- 
able, and also may impress the horse or horses of any per- 
son or persons whatsoever, which if lost or damaged in 
such service shall be paid for by the inhabitants of such 
fort or station in such manner and such proportions as the 
committee hereby appointed, or a majority of them, shall 
direct and order ; but if any person siiall be aggrieved or 
think himself iiijustly vexed and injured by the fine or fines 
so imposed by the officer or officers, such person may appear 
to the said Judges or Committee of General Arbitrators, 
who, or a majority of them, shall have power to examine 
the matter fully, and make such order therein as they may 
think just and reasonable, which decision shall be conclusive 
on the party complaining, as well as the officer or officers in- 
flicting such fine ; and the money arising from such fines 
shall be carefully applied for the benefit of such fort or 
station, in such manner as the said Arbitrators shall here- 
after direct. 

" It is lastly agreed and firmly resolved that a dutiful and 
humble address or petition be presented by some person or 
persons, to be chosen by the inhabitants to the General 
Assembly, giving the fullest assurance of the fidelity and 
attachment to the interests of our country aud obedience 
to the laws and constitution thereof, setting forth that we 
are confident our settlement is not within the boundaries of 
any nation or tribe of Indians, as some of us know and all 
believe that they have fairly sold and received satisfaction 
for the land or territories whereon we reside, and therefore, 
we hope we may not be considered as acting against the 
laws of our country or the mandates of government ; 

" That we do not desire to be exempt from the ratable 
share of the public expense of the present war,* or other 
contingent charges of government ; that we are, from our 
remote situation, utterly destitute of the benefits of the 
laws of our country, and exposed to the depredations of 

* War for Independence. 

the Indians without any justifiable or effectual means of 
employing our militia or defending ourselves against the 
hostile attempts of our enemy ; praying and imploring the 
immediate aid and protection of our government, by erect- 
ing a county to include our settlements, appointing proper 
officers for the discharge of public duty, taking into con- 
sideration our distressed situation with respect to the 
Indians, and granting such relief and assistance as in 
wisdom, justice, and humanity may be thought reasonable. 
"Nashborough, IStli May, 1780." 

The records of the government of the Arbitrators, had 
they been kept or preserved, would no doubt have revealed 
many curious and interesting facts. " From our researches," 
says Putnam, " we conclude that immediately after the 
adoption of the Articles an election was held at the sta- 
tions, and that then Robertson was chosen Colonel ; Don- 
elson, Lieutenant-Colonel; Lucas, Major; V and George 
Freeland, Mauldin, Bledsoe, and Blackemore, Captains." 
Although the entry-taker and the judges were each required 
to keep separate books in which to keep minutes of their 
proceedings, it does not appear that any of these are extant, 
or that even a fugitive sheet or scrap can be found till the 
7th of January, 1783. The people were so greatly exposed 
and kept in such constant turmoil with the Indians that 
during the intervening period but little had been attended 
to beyond their own immediate protection. In the midst of 
these discouraging circumstances many had left the settle- 
ments, and their numbers were reduced to seventy men. 
The record which recites the revival of the government 
alludes pathetically to these difficulties and trials : 

" North Carolina, Cumberland Rivkr, 
"January 7th, 17S3. 

" The manifold sufferings and distresses that the settlers 
here have from time to time undergone, even almost from 
our first settling, with the desertion of the greater number 
of the first adventurers, being so discouraging to the re- 
maining few that all administration of justice seemed to 
cease from amongst us, — which, however weak, whether in 
Constitution, administration, or execution, yet has been 
construed in our favor, against those whose malice or in- 
terest would insinuate us a people fled to a hiding-place 
from justice, and the revival of them again earnestly 
recommended, — it appears highly necessary that for the 
common weal of the whole, the securing of peace, the 
performance of contracts between man and man, together 
with the suppression of vice, again to revive our former 
manner of proceedings, pursuant to the plan agreed upon 
at our first settling here, and to proceed accordingly until 
such times as it shall please the Legislature to grant us the 
salutary benefits of the law duly administered amongst us 
by their authority. 

" To this end, previous notice having been given to the 
several stationers to elect twelve men of their several stations 
whom they thought most proper for the business, and being 
elected, to meet at Nashborough on the 7th day of January, 

" Accordingly there met at the time and place aforesaid 
Colonel James Robertson, Captain George Freeland, Thomas 
Malloy, Isaac Lindsey, David Rounsevall, Hcydon Wells, 



James Mauldin, Ebenezer Titus, Samuel Barton, Andrew 
Ewin, Constituting tlieniselves into a Coniniittee, for pur- 
poses aforesaid, by voluntarily taking the following oath, 
viz. : 

" 'I, A. B., do solemnly swear that, as a member of the 
Committee, I will do equal right and justice, according to 
the best of my skill and judgment, in the decisions of all 
causes that sliall be laid before mo, without fear, favor, or 
partiality. So help me God !' 

" The Committee so constituted proceeded to elect; An- 
drew Ewin to be their Clerk, John Montgomery to be 
Sheriff of the district, and Colonel James Robertson to be 
their Chairman. And to fix the Clerk's fees." 

We make a few extracts from the records, which con- 
tinue without interruption to the organization of Davidson 
County : 

"Jan. 18, 1783. 

" At a Committee called by the desire of the inhabi- 
tants for the offering of an address to the State's Commis- 
sioners, in behalf of some minors and heads of families, 
the first of which was deprived by their minority, the 
others by not arriving here by the time prescribed by the 
act of Assembly for obtaining lands ; and that they would 
represent their case to the Assembly, in hopes of tiieir in- 
dulgence toward them ; and that the Commissioners would, 
in the mean time, be pleased to receive their locations for 
their improvements ; to the intent that they might be 
generally known, in hopes that others would not interfere 
therewith. To which the Commissioners were pleased to 
return them an answer, that, to the first, they would do 
everything in their power for them ; but to receiving their 
locations, it did not come within the line of their duty, 

" The members present were Col. James Robertson, 
Capt. George Freeland, Thomas Malloy, Isaac Liusey, 
Heydon Wells, David Rounsevall, Ebenezer Titus, and 
Samuel Barton. Likewise, Capt. Isaac Bledsoe and Capt. J. 
J. Blackemore appeared and qualified for members of the 
Committee, and after discussing the above business, the 
same Committee, on motion of James McCain, proceeded 
to take up the deposition of Isaac Neely, viz. : that he, the 
said Isaac Neely, was witness to a bill of sale, the contents 
of which, he believes, was a bed purchased of Jourdan 
Gibson by the said McCain, and further the deponent saith 

" The Committee proceeded uo further to business, but 
referred to their former adjournment, and so dismissed." 

" Feb. 5, 178.3. 

" Committee met according to adjournment. Members 
present — Capt. George Freeland, Isaac Linsey, Heydon 
Wells, David Rounsevall, Ebenezer Titus, and James Shaw, 
elected for Nashborough, appeared and qualified for member 
of the Committee. 

" The Committee then proceeded and swore in John 
Montgomery to be Sherifi" of the district, and Andrew 
Ewin, for Clerk to the Committee. 

" On motion made, the Committee granted administration 
of the estate of John Turner, deceased, to Mr. John 
Blarney, said Marney entering into bonds with Heydon 

Wells and John Dunham, securities for the sum of one 
thousand pounds, proclamation money, payable to Col. 
James Robertson and his successors as Chairman of the 
Committee, or their assignees, and also qualified as by law 
required. And there not being a majority of members 
present, they proceeded no further, but adjourned until the 
first Tuesday in March, 1783." 

"March 4, 1781). 

" Committee met according to adjournment. Members 
present — Col. James Robertson, George Freeland, Thomas 
Mulloy, Isaac Lindsey, David Rounsevall, Ebenezer Titus, 
Samuel Barton, and James Shaw, The Committee then 
proceeded to take into consideration an address offered to 
them relative to the inhabitants of the Cumberland, giving 
their assurance of fidelity to the government of the State 
in which they reside, which unanimously was approved by 
the Committee, and agreed that it should be done as soon as 
opportunity would serve. 

" Letters of administration on several estates granted, 
and sundry suits continued ; one against John Dunham 
' for detaining a bed.' Daniel Hogan and wife vs. James 
Todd ; parties appeared, and the Committee recommended 
to the parties to adjust matters themselves." 

"March 1.5, 1783. 

" On motion made, the Committee agree that an address 
to be sent to the Assembly, acknowledging our grateful 
sense of their late favor in granting us lands, praying them 
to grant us the salutary benefit of government in all its 
branches, and that a land-ofBce may be opened on such a 
plan as may encourage the settling of the country, that the 
protection of it may be less burdensome. 

" And that Col. Jam^s Robertson present the same, being 
elected thereto by the people. 

" On motion, agreed that six spies be kept out to discover 
the motions of the enemy so long as we shall be able to pay 
them, each to receive seventy-five bushels of Indian corn per 
month (to be under the direction of Col. Robertson and 
Capt. Bledsoe). The subscription of Nashborough, Free- 
land's, and Mansker's Stations filed with the Clerk of the 

" The Deputation of Thomas Fletcher to the Sheriffalty 
of the District by John Montgomery disannulled ; and the 
Committee elect the .said Fletcher, who was sworn Sheriff 
of the District of Cumberland. 

" It being thought necessary to our better defense in 
these times of danger that officers be chosen in each re- 
spective station to embody the inhabitants for their greater 
safety. Accordingly there was made choice of, at Nash- 
borough, William Pruit for Captain ; Samuel Martin and 
John Buchanan, 1st and 2d Lieutenants; and William Over- 
all, Ensign. 

" At Freeland's Station, Joshua Howard, Captain ; James 
Donelson, Lieutenant; and John Dunham, Ensign. 

" At Heatonsburg, Joshua Ramsey, Captain ; James 
Hollis, Lieutenant ; and Joshua Thomas, Ensign. 

" At Mansker's, Isaac Bledsoe, Captajn ; Gasper Mans- 
ker. Lieutenant; James Lynn, Ensign. 

" At Maulding's, Francis Prince, Captain ; Ambrose 
Maulding, Lieutenant." 




"April 1, 17S5. 

" Gentlemen : Whereas the purchasing of Liquors brought 
from foreign parts and sold to the inhabitants here at exor- 
bitant rates, and carrying away the money out of the coun- 
try, will greatly tend to the impoverishing of. this infant 
settlement : 

" For the remedying of this evil Let it be resolved and 
asrreed on by this Committee that from and after the first 
day of April any person bringing liquors here from foreign 
parts shall, before they expose the same or any part thereof 
to sale, enter into bonds before some member of the Com- 
mittee, with two suflScient securities, in the penal sum of 
two hundred pounds specie, payable to the Chairman of the 
Committee and his successors as such, that they will not 
ask, take, or receive, directly or indirectly, any more than 
one silver dollar, or the value thereof in produce, for one 
quart of good, sound, merchantable liquor, and so in pro- 
portion for a greater or less quantity. And any member of 
the Committee before whom such bond is given shall grant 
certificate thereof to the giver. 

" And any person selling or exposing to sale any liquor 
brought from foreign parts, not having entered into such 
bond as aforesaid, the same shall be liable to bo seized by 
warrant granted by any member of the Committee, which 
they are hereby empowered and required to issue ; and so 
seized, to secure and deliver the same until they shall enter 
into such a bond as aforesaid, or otherwise oblige them- 
selves to transport their liquor again out of this settlement. 
Provided always that if neither shall be done within twenty 
days after such seizure the same shall be deemed and held 
forfeited, and shall be sold, and the money arising thereby 
shall be applied to the use of the public at the discretion of 
the Committee. 

" And if any person upon giving bond in either of the 
premises aforesaid shall afterwards make default therein, and 
on information and prosecution be convicted thereof by suf- 
ficient witness before our Committee, their bond shall be 
deemed and held forfeited, and judgment be awarded against 
them accordingly. And on refusal or delay to satisfy such 
judgment, the same shall be levied on their goods and chat- 
tels by distress, and the money arising thereby applied as 
aforesaid under direction of the Committee. Provided al- 
ways that such prosecution shall commence within six 
months after default made. 

" Approved, resolved, and agreed by the Committee. 
"Andrew Ewin, Clerk." 

" On motion ordered that a road be opened from Nash- 
borough to Mansker's Station . . . and another from Hea- 
tonsburg to Mansker's. Overseers appointed and directed 
to call out hands to work on them. The Committee then 
proceeded to the causes on the Docket." 

It would be interesting to report these suits did space 
permit. We add the regulation concerning commerce and 
the vote of the stationers upon the subject of the Indian 

treaty at Nashborough : 

" May 6th, 1783. 
" Committee met according to adjournment. Members 
present : Col. Robertson, Malloy, Freeland, Barton, Rounse- 
vall, Linsey, Titus, Shaw, and Capt. Isaac Bledsoe. Wheu 

Thomas Malloy informed the Committee that he had since 
the last meeting, at the request of some of the members, 
sent letters to the agent of the State of Virginia, residing 
at the Illinois, and likewise to the Spanish Governor, in- 
forming them that some of our people had gone down the 
river this spring upon pretense of trading with the Chicka- 
saw Indians ; but by the report of some lately come from 
the Illinois, who met with them on their way here, we are 
afraid that their design was to assist in plundering some of 
the trading-boats; and that if any such thing should be 
committed or effected by or with the assistance of any be- 
longing to us, that it was contrary to the principles and 
intentions of the generality of the people here, as we detest 
and abhor such practices ; and that we would endeavor for 
the future to prevent any such proceedings. 

" Which information and conduct of Mr. Malloy was 
unanimously approved and accepted by the Committee. 

'' On motion made, Resolved and agreed on by the Com- 
mittee, That from and after the 6th day of May, 1783, no 
person or inhabitant of this settlement shall trade, traffic, or 
barter with any Indian, nor resort unto them on the other 
side of the Ohio or of the dividing ridge between Tennessee 
and Cumberland waters, nor go down these Western waters, 
upon pretense of trading to the Illinois or elsewhere, with- 
out permission first had and obtained of the Committee, and 
likewise giving bond, with approved security, in any sum at 
the discretion of the Committee, payable to the Chairman 
thereof and his successors as such, conditioning that their 
conduct shall not directly nor indirectly in any way preju- 
dice the interests of this settlement. 

" On motion made, such of the members of the Commit- 
tee as had not heretofore taken the oath of abjuration and 
fidelity in this State proceeded to take it, which was first 
administered to the Clerk by Col. James Robertson, and 
afterwards by the Clerk in Committee to the members as 
aforesaid ; and the rest of the members made oath of hav- 
ing taken it heretofore in this State, and had at no time 
since been engaged in the interests of the enemies of the 
United States. 

" Andrew Ewin, Clerk." 

"June Z, 1783. 

" When on motion made by Maj. John Reid relative to 
the assembling of the Southern tribes of Indians at the 
French Lick, on Cumberland River, for holding a Treaty 
with the Commissioners appointed by the State of Virginia, 
the Committee considering how difficult it will be for a 
handful of people reduced to poverty and distress by a con- 
tinued scene of Indian barbarity to furnish any large body 
of Indians with provisions, and how prejudicial it may be 
to our infant settlement should they not be furnished with 
provisions, or otherwise dissatisfied or disaflfected with the 
terms of the Treaty ; on which consideration the Committee 
refer it to the unanimous suffrages of the people of this set- 
tlement whether the Treaty shall be held here with their 
consent or no. And that the suifrages of the several stations 
be delivered to the Clerk of Committee by Thursday even- 
ing, the 5th inst., at which time the suifrages of Freeland's 
Station, Heatonsburg, and Nashborough were given in as 
follows : 

" Freeland's Station, no Treaty here, 32 votes. 



" Nasliborough, no Treaty here, 26 votes. 

" Ileatonsburg, no Treaty here, 1 vote = 59. 

" Heatonsburg, Treaty here, 54 votes. 

" Nashborough, Treaty here, 30 votes = 84. 

"The other stations of Kasper Mansker's and Blauld- 
ing's failing to return their votes." 

The last act of the committee appears to have been the 
reassertion of the restriction on the sale of foreign liquors : 

"August 5th, 17S3. 

" Resolved on by this present Committee that from and 
after the raising hereof no foreigner bringing any liquors 
from foreign parts shall ask, take, or receive for the same, 
directly or indirectly, any more than one silver dollar per 
gallon, or the value thereof in produce, giving bond and se- 
curity, or be liable to the same forfeiture as by the resolve 
of the 1st of April, 1783. 

"Test: Andrew Ewin, Clerh. 

" Conclusion of the Committee." 

These proceedings cannot be read without interest, nor 
without forming a very worthy opinion of the pioneers who 
first settled Davidson County. The majority, like those 
who formed the earliest settlements in Ohio and Kentucky, 
were men of energy, sound judgment, and moral worth. 
The wisdom, the intellectual discipline, the familiarity with 
principles of business, both public and private, the knowl- 
edge even of forms of law, exhibited in their records and 
documents, their good sense and use of the English lan- 
guage, all strike the student of their history as being re- 
markable for that period and for a class of pioneers settling 
in a new country. " They possessed neither proud extrav- 
agance nor mean selfishness, and would have been ashamed 
of the transmission of such vices to their posterity." The 
manner in which they looked after the welfare of the ab- 
sent and considered the interests of widows and orphans is 
one of the brightest examples in the history of any people. 

The treaty with the Indians referred to iu the foregoing 
records deserves further mention. Tliese fragmentary re- 
cords and other papers deposited with the Tennessee 
Historical Society are the only documents which settle 
definitely the date and other important facts respecting this 
treaty, about which there has been much contradiction 
among historians.* The questions respecting this treaty 
were warmly debated at the stations during several weeks 
in which the commissioners were waiting for the assembling 
of the Indians. It was deemed of doubtful propriety to 
hold it here, in a settlement which had been plundered and 
robbed by the very savages invited, and whose citizens had 
been murdered and reduced to poverty, and could ill afford 
to provide such an assemblage with provisions. Besides, 
what right had the State of Virginia to assemble the In- 
dians upon territory belonging to North Carolina? The 
question, however, had been submitted to a vote of the 
people, and had been decided in the afiirmative. It ap- 
pears that of the people on the Nashborough side of the 
river, where it was proposed to hold the treaty, two to one 
were opposed ; but they were outvoted by those at Eaton's, 
on the east side of the river. Col. Robertson, who resided 

■'■■' See Monettc, Ha^'wood, Ramsey, and otbers, quoted by Putnam, 
p. 134. 

at Freeland's Station, voted " No Treaty here," as did every 
other man there. At Nasliborough the vote was twenty-six 
to thirty, the majority voting for the treaty. But the con- 
trolling vote was at Eaton's, being fifty-four to one. The 
people at the latter station, feeling their responsibility for 
the treaty, 'promptly and nobly resolved to sustain their 
action with both " person and property," and to be present 
to assist on the day of the treaty. Tliis resolution was 
signed by fifty-four voters. 

The treaty began and was concluded in the month of 
June, 1783, Cols. Donelson and Martin being the commis- 
sioners on the part of Virginia. It was made with the 
" Southern tribes of Indians" generally, not alone with 
the Chickasaws. " The Indians were invited to assemble 
at the large Sulphur Spring, about four miles northwest of 
Nashville, on the east side, and a few hundred yards from 
the Charlotte Pike. The beautiful location had been se- 
lected by Col. Robertson for his own station and home. 
There he afterwards erected his brick dwelling-house. 

The place was formerly for many years the " Nashville 

The Indians were treated hospitably, and were dismissed 
with as many presents as could then be bestowed. No 
outbreak or disturbance of any kind occurred. The sta- 
tioners exerted themselves to the utmost, not only to supply 
the wants of all present, but to make a good impression on 
their generally unwelcome guests, and succeeded, so that 
the Indians expressed themselves well pleased. 

" This treaty being made under the authority of one of 
the States, and not of the Confederated States, was exposed 
to an objection similar to that which Virginia and North 
Carolina had made to the treaty of Colonel Henderson, and 
is not to be seen in the published volumes of Indian Treat- 
ies. Its provisions and boundaries were, however, subse- 
quently confirmed, or renewed and settled, by the Treaty 
of Hopewell, in 1785." 

It is mentioned by Putnam that the acquaintance formed 
with some of the Indians at this time was serviceable to 
the Cumberland settlers, for it enabled Col. Robertson to 
obtain information relative to the Spanish efi"orts to excite 
these Indians to enmity and warfare against the whites. 
" Colonel Robertson deemed it proper during this year to 
address a letter to the Baron de Carondelet, to contradict 
reports which the Spaniards had heard, or pretended to 
have heard, of designs entertained by the people of Cum- 
berland to make a descent upon the Spanish possessions on 
the Mississippi." We shall advert to this Spanish question 



Patriotism and Valor of the Watauga and Cumberland Pioneers — 
Tlie First to honor Washington by naming a District after him 
— James Robertson and Valentine Sevier in the Battle of Kanawha 
— The Battle of King's Mountain — Additions to the Cumberland 
Settlement from Natchez— Close of the War — Rejoicing over the 
Peace — Immigration of Revolutionary Heroes. 

Although few of the earliest settlers of Davidson 
County took part in any of the actual engagements of the 



Revolution, yet all of them suffered what may justly be 
regarded as its most direful consequences, — the hostility of 
savages incited to murder and plunder by the enemies of 
the country during a time of war. To this they were pe- 
culiarly exposed, and, on account of their isolated situation, 
and the necessity for employing all the available forces of 
the older settlements in other fields, had to carry on the 
conflict alone and unassisted. The heroism, the wisdom, 
the soldierly qualities, the undaunted courage and self sacri- 
fice displayed by most of these men render them the peers 
of those who fought on more renowned fields, and fostered 
a spirit of valor which in their descendants made the name 
of Tennessee famous in the later wars of the Republic, — 
at New Orleans, among the Seminoles of Florida, in the 
Creek campaign, the war for Texan independence, the war 
with Mexico, and in the late Civil War, both in the Union 
and Confederate armies. A record of these achievements, 
together with the names of many of the heroes of Davidson 
County, will be found in the chapters on military history 
in another part of this work. 

The pioneers of Watauga were the first in America to 
honor Washington by giving his name to the new district 
they had carved out and reclaimed from savage dominion 
among the mountains. It was peculiarly appropriate. 
Washington stood for liberty and popular sovereignty, for 
freedom regulated by law, and so did Washington District. 
The mountaineers fled from their former homes for liberty, 
but it was their first care that liberty with them should not 
degenerate into license. Hence they convened and organ- 
ized a government for the conservation of justice aniono- 
themselves, and for the punishment of outlaws who sought 
among them immunity for crimes committed in an older 
state of society. This name was also prophetic; for Wash- 
ington had only then begun to give promise of that trans- 
cendent place which he was destined to hold among Ameri- 
cans as the father of his country, and the light of the 
oppressed and down-trodden of all nations. There was 
something prophetic in that instinct of the first settlers of 
Tennessee which recognized in him, almost in advance of 
his coming greatness, the future liberator of the colonies 
and father of the great republic of the Western World. 
It reveals the confidence they had in Washington thus early 
in the struggle for independence. 

" The name of Washington District," says Ramsey, 
" being in the petition* itself, must have been assumed by 
the people petitioning, and was probably suggested by John 
Sevier, who during his residence at Williamsburg had 
doubtless known Col. George Washington, now the com- 
mander-in-chief of the American army. It is not known 
to this writer that the authorities or people of any other 
province had previously honored Washington by giving his 
name to one of its towns or districts, — a district, too, of 
such magnificent dimensions, extending from the Alleghany 
Mountains to the Mississippi." 

A few hunters being on the spot where Lexington, 
Ky., now stands, and marking it as the site of a future 
city, heard there in the wilderness the report of the battle 
of old Lexington, Mass., and forthwith gave the name of 

'■" Petition to the Provincial Council of North Carolina. 

Lexington to the place. This was the first Lexington in 
all the country whose name symbolized that glorious stand 
for liberty taken by the people of the East. 

Gen. Robertson, who was not second to Sevier in the 
founding and defense of the Watauga government and, up 
to a certain time, in the afikirs of Washington District, had 
also known Washington in his youth, and he carried with 
him through life a great veneration for his character and 
services. The name of Washington was the watchword no 
less of the patriot exiles in the wilderness of the Cumber- 
land than of the mountaineers along the Appalachian chain 
and the colonists of the eastern Atlantic shores. It was a 
sovereign talisman and a rallying-point of union and heroic 
endeavor from the north to the south and from the east to 
the west. Reverence for this great name held the people 
together and gave them victory. 

The name of James Robertson stands before that of John 
Sevier on the committee which drew up the famous petition 
to the Assembly of North Carolina, asking for the annexa- 
tion of Washington District to that colony. He and Valen- 
tine Sevier, with the Watauga regiment of mountain men, 
had taken a glorious part in Lord Dunmore's war, under Gen. 
Lewis, at the battle of Kanawha in 1774. Not only have 
the writers of the " Annals of Tennessee" and the biogra- 
phers of her sons given great praise to those who marched 
from East Tennessee and participated in this important 
battle, but all American historians applaud their conduct. 
All the provincial oflncers acknowledged their indebtedness to 
the two Tonnesseeans, Robertson and Sevier, who so provi- 
dentially discovered the plans of the lurking foe and fought 
so bravely throughout the day. It was by many admitted 
that but for this timely discovery and alarm, the whole 
American force would in all probability have been routed 
and destroyed. The plan, the advance, and the attack 
throughout evinced much judgment and bravery, but in 
the absence of the discovery of the foe at the most critical 
and opportune moment, this well-managed battle would 
have been thwarted by that sudden surprise which the 
Indians intended and had nearly eff'octed. 

It is certainly worthy of note that when this battle was 
fought the first Provincial Congress was in session at Phila- 
delphia, and that then in the " backwoods of America" a 
thousand men could be promptly called into service, 
equipped, and marched under brave and skillful officers, 
through forests and over mountains and valleys, with 
strength and ability sufficient to so discomfit the combined 
forces of the most warlike Indian tribes that they did not 
dare to renew the attack upon the white settlers until they 
were at war among themselves, after the Declaration of 

So in the battle of King's Mountain, these same hardy 
Tennesseeans decided the fate of the Revolution in the 
Southern Colonies. At that place Ferguson, having in- 
trenched himself, received intelligence of an avalanche of 
indignant patriotism accumulating along the mountain, and 
ready to precipitate itself upon and overwhelm his army. 
On Wednesday, the 4th day of October, 1780, the rifle- 
men advanced to Gilbert town. Following Ferguson's 
retreat to his mountain stronghold, from which he dis- 
patched Cornwallis that " all the rebels out of h — 11" could 



not dislodge liim, tho mountaineers concerted their plan of 
battle. It was decided tliat the troops commanded by Win- 
ston, McDowell, Sovicr, Shelby, and Campbell, being more 
than half of the whole number of assailants, after tying 
their horses, should file to the right and pass the mountain 
nearly out of reach of the enemy's guns, and continue 
around it until they should meet the rest of the troops cir- 
cling the mountain on its opposite side, and led by Hum- 
bright and Chronicle, and followed by Cleveland and Wil- 
liams, after which each command was to face to the front, 
raise the Indian war-whoop, and advance upon the enemy. 
This plan was successfully carried out, the mountaineers 
alternately fighting in front and rear of the Tories and 
regulars, driving them higher and higher up the mountain, 
and in closer quarters upon its summit, until at length flags 
of truce were presented for a surrender. Ferguson refused 
to recognize the flags. Dashing about in every part of the 
fight, he cut them dowu with his sword, I'esorting repeat- 
edly to bayonet charges as his only hope of resisting the 
invincible riflemen, who so depleted his ranks that the ex- 
pedient of sharpening handles of butcher-knives and insert- 
ing them in the muzzles of the Tories' guns was resorted 
to. About this time the front of the two American col- 
umns had met, and the army of Ferguson was surrounded 
by the riflemen. Their fii'ing became incessant and general 
in all quarters, but especially at the two ends of the enemy's 
line. Sevier pressed against its centre, and was charged 
upon by the regulars. The conflict here became stubborn, 
and drew to it much of the enemy's force. This enabled 
Shelby and Campbell to reach and hold the crest of the 

'• On all sides now the fire was brisk and deadly, and the 
charges with the bayonet, though less vigorous, were fre- 
quent. In all cases where the enemy charged the Ameri- 
cans on one side of the hill, those on the other thought he 
was retreating, and advanced near to the summit. But in 
all these movements the left of Ferguson's line was gradu- 
ally receding, and the Americans were plying their rifles 
with terrible efi'ect. Ferguson was still in the heat of the 
battle. With characteristic coolness and daring ho ordered 
Capt. Dupoister to reinforce a position about one hundred 
yards distant with his regulars, but before they reached it 
they were thinned too much by the American rifles to 
render any efi'ectual support. He then ordered his cavalry 
to mount, with a view of making a desperate onset at their 
head. But these only presented a better mark for the rifles, 
and fell as fast as they could mount their horses^ He rode 
from one end of the line to the other, encouraging his men 
to prolong the conflict. With desperate courage he passed 
from one exposed point to another of equal danger. He 
carried in his wounded hand a shrill-sounding silver whistle, 
whose signal was universally known through the ranks, was 
of immense service throughout the battle, and gave a kind 
of ubiquity to his movements. 

" He was frequently admonished by Dupoister to sur- 
render, but his proud spirit could not deign to give up to 
raw and undisciplined militia. . . . He fell soon after, and 
immediately expired. 

" The forward movement of all the American columns 
brought therm to the level of the enemy's guns, which here- 

tofore, in most instances, had overshot their heads. The 
horizontal fire of the regulars was now considerably fatal ; 
but the rapid advances of the riflemen soon surrounded 
both them and the Tories, who being crowded close together 
and cooped up in a narrow space by the surrounding pres- 
sure of the American troops, and fatally galled by their in- 
cessant fire, lost all hope from further resistance. Dupoister, 
who succeeded Ferguson in command, perceiving that 
further struggle was in vain, raised the white flag and ex- 
claimed for quarters. A general cessation of the American 
fire followed ; but this cessation was not complete. Some 
of the young men did not understand the meaning of a 
while flag; others, who did, knew that other flags had 
been raised before, and were quickly taken down. Shelby 
hallooed out to them to throw down their guns, as all would 
understand thai as a surrender. This was immediately 
done. The arms were now lying in front of the prisoners, 
without any orders how to dispose of them. Col. Shelby, 
seeing the facility with which the enemy could resume their 
guns, exclaimed, ' Good God I what can we do in this confu- 
sion ?' ' We can order the prisoners from their guns,' said 
Sawyer. ' Yes,' said Shelby, ' that can be done.' The 
prisoners were accordingly marched to another place, and 
there surrounded by a double guard. 

" The battle of King's Mountain lasted about an hour. 
T-lie loss of the enemy was two hundred and twenty-five 
killed, one hundred and eighty wounded, seven hundred 
prisoners, fifteen hundred stand of arms and a great many 
horses and wagons loaded with supplies, and booty of every 
kind taken by the plundering Tories from the wealthy 
Whigs." The loss of the Americans was thirty killed and 
about twice that number wounded. Col. Williams, of South 
Carolina, was among the former. 

Gen. Bernard, an ofiicer under Napoleon, and afterwards 
in the United States Engineer service, on examining the 
battle ground of King's Mountain, said, " The Americans 
by their victory in that engagement, erected a monument to 
perpetuate the memory of the brave men who had fallen 
there, and the shape of the hill itself would be an eternal 
monument to the military genius and skill of Col. Ferguson, 
in selecting a position so well adapted for defense ; and that 
no other plan of assault but that pursued by the mountain- 
men could have succeeded against him." 

Of the regiment from Washington County, commanded 
by Col. Sevier, the captains were his two brothers, Valentine 
and Robert Sevier, Joel Callahan, George Doherty, and 
George Russell ; Lieutenant, Isaac Lane. Capt. Robert Se- 
vier was wounded, from which he died the third day after, 
and was buried at Bright's. 

The victory of King's Mountain was to the South what 
Saratoga was to the East, — the decisive one of the Revolu- 
tion. It turned the tide in the struggle for independence, 
and sent a thrill of joy to every patriotic heart from the 
Western wilds to the shores of the Atlantic. It was also a 
very important local victory. " A number of Tories, horse- 
thieves, and highwaymen had been captured and hung, 
but the leader and others escaped till the glorious victory 
of King's Mountain, when this notorious captain of ban- 
ditti. Grimes, was caught and hung, and some others with 



It should be mentioned here that accessions came to the 
Cumberland settlements about this time from the lower 
Mississippi. They were refugees from the revolt against 
the Spaniards under Gen. Lyman, who, with Gens. Putnam 
and Schuyler, had located twenty thousand acres of land 
each between the mouths of the Yazoo and Bayou Pierre, 
as grants received for their services in the French war. 
Lyman was the only one of these generals who resided upon 
the Blississippi, and during the Revolution he was an in- 
tense loyalist. When the British forces laid siege to Pen- 
sacola in the spring of 1781, there was strong confidence 
among the English subjects that the Spaniards would be 
overwhelmed, and the Floridas restored to Great Britain. 
Lyman found at Natchez, and in the surrounding new set- 
tlements, British subjects who were willing to unite with 
him in an attempt to overthrow the Spanish authorities in 
that quarter. They concerted measures and laid siege to 
Fort Panmure, on the bluff at Natchez, captured it, and 
deemed themselves good and loyal subjects of King George. 

Engaged in tliis little rebellion and successful uprising 
against Spain were a few persons who had .sympathized 
with the Regulators in North Carolina, and had fled thence 
to avoid British petty tyranny; and were now found, 
strangely, fighting for British rule, when many of their 
most dear and intimate friends were contending to throw off 
that same power, and to establish the independence of the 
United colonies. With such they no doubt sympathized at 
heart ; but as between the English and the Spaniards, they 
infinitely preferred the authority of the former. The 
Spaniards, however, gained the victory at Pensacola, and in 
a few days after the successful rebellion at Natchez news 
came that they were ascending the Mississippi with an 
overwhelming force ; that the rebels would be taken and all 
their property confiscated. They resolved to save their 
lives by a timely flight, and to take with them such of their 
property as could be removed. Lyman, the royalist, and 
some others of like sentiments, fled to the British at 
Charleston and Savannah by a toilsome march across the 
country. Others, who were " akin to the Regulators," 
and had friends on the Cumberland, resolved to remove 
thither. We give the names of the more prominent of 
those who arrived here in 1783. They were Philip Alston, 
John Turnbull, James Drungald, James Cole, John Turner, 
^Thomas James, Philip Mulkley, and Thomas Hines. A 
few of the number who set out upon this journey were 
attacked by the Cherokees and lost their lives. Of the 
others, several of their names may be seen among the two 
hundred and fifty-sis signatures to the articles of govern- 
ment, near the close of the list. The wilderness through 
which they came was an extent of forest and prairie country 
of more than three hundred miles, their route being from 
" forty miles above Natchez, through the Choctaw nation 
crossing the Tombigbee, Tennessee, and other rivers, to the 
settlements on the Cumberland." 

They remained at the Cumberland settlements several 
years, aided in the defenses against the Indians, rejoiced 
with their friends in the acknowledged independence of 
their country, had their patriotic sentiments greatly 
strengthened, received much insight into Spanish hypoc- 
risy and intrigue with the Indians, and returned to their 

homes fully imbued with that loyal spirit towards the United 
States which made them a bulwark of strength in resisting 
the later schemes in that portion of the country for the dis- 
memberment of the Union. Many of tiicm filled ofiBces of 
trust and profit in the Territory and the State. Gen. Hines 
distinguished himself in the battle of New Orleans, in 
command of the light horse. He had known Gen. 
Jackson on the Cumberland, cherished with him a hatred 
of the English and the Spanish, aided in his victories over 
both and the Indians, in the final glorious triumph of the 
Sth of January, 1815, and lived to hail his friend and 
chieftain " President of the United States." 

When the " refugees" returned there went with them 
other "good men and true," the Turpins, Freolauds, 
Greens, Shaws, forming the nucleus of an excellent neigh- 
borhood, known as such to the present day. 

On the 19th of April, Gen. Washington issued his 
proclamation for the cessation of hostilities, and recom- 
mended the offering of thanks to Almighty God for the 
many blessings conferred upon the American people. 
Whether the settlers on the Cumberland received this 
intelligence before the fall of the year we know not, but 
in December they were assured that the Revolutionary war 
was actually ended on the 30th of November. " When 
they heard this they rejoiced." We need not doubt it. 
" Andrew Ewin raised himself up to his full height, when- 
ever, in after-days, the reception of this news was men- 
tioned, and he said, ' Robertson and all the rest of us felt a 
foot taller, and straightened from the bend of a dog's liind 
leg to an erect figure.' " 

" For a time this event seems to have influenced the 
conduct of the Indians. If they came near the settlements 
they were in pursuit of game. Indirect messages wore 
sent and received expressive of a friendly disposition, and 
suggestions were made to them by Col. Robertson that if 
some of their chiefs would make known such a wish, the 
States might appoint some persons to hold talks and con- 
ferences with them." This was brought about the next 
year on the part of Virginia and North Carolina, and the 
Donelson and Martin treaty was made at Nashville, in 
June, 1783. The year had been ushered in by general 
rejoicing and congratulations throughout the States. Peace 
had been proclaimed, independence acknowledged, and the 
hearts of the people were indeed glad. This joy spread all 
over the land ; its waves were not delayed upon the mount- 
ains ; the tidings were hastened to the settlements on the 
Cumberland ; and, having a little powder left, they could 
not refrain from appropriating a portion for a. feu de joie, 
to which they added Jmrralis aJ libitum. " It was hurrah 
for Washington, hurrah for Congress, hurrah for Carolina, 
hurrah for vs ! Great as was the joy elsewhere, there 
was no small amount of it here. A common exclamation 
of the mothers and grandmothers was, ' Bless the Lord 1 
Bless the Lord !' " 

After the peace the tide of immigration set into the 
Cumberland Valley and Middle Tennessee. The old North 
State saw many excellent citizens depart from their birth- 
place, strike out into the wilderness across the mountains, 
and to this iar-off border. They brought with them a large 
supply of horses, cattle, oxen, ftirming-imprements, me- 



chanics" tools, guns, and much powder and load. They 
carao to stay and they were heartily welcomed. Many 
came also from Virginia and made selections of valuable 
lands. To trace this general influx of population forward 
for many years would be impossible in a work like this. 

" It is quite probable that the soil of Tennessee contains 
the bones of as many Revolutionary soldiers as any of the 
mother States in the South. After the war was over, thou- 
sands of them flocked to this State, to locate lands on war- 
rants issued for military services. Most of these remained, 
some to die from Indian bullets and tomahawks, and the 
rest as peaceful tillers of the soil, which in course of time 
received into its bosom a new accession of sacred dust. 
Some of these bones, mayhap, the plowshare has already 
upturned, while of many neither stone nor Inscription 
marks the site of their last resting-place. 

" Geu. Rutherford, for whom one of our fine counties 
was named, is buried in Sumner Co., Tenn., but the par- 
ticular place is unknown to the writer. He was a man of 
splendid traits of character, but very plain and unassuming 
in dress and manner. On public occasions he appeared in 
the simplest homespun, and the J'oung wondered what old 
fellow that was to whom the elders paid such marked re- 
spect and greeted with such warmth and cordiality. At 
the battle of Camden he was taken prisoner, while desper- 
ately fighting to retrieve the fortunes of the day. On this 
occasion his life was saved by a thick, tight-fitting wool 
hat, which broke the force of Tarleton's sabres. His head 
bled freely from a number of wounds, while his weather- 
beaten tile was ruined forever by the showers of savage 
cuts it had received. 

" The writer can trace up the names of over twenty of 
these old soldiers who are buried in Lincoln Co., Tenn. 
One of these, Capt. John Morgan,- commanded a company 
from North Carolina, and is buried at Mulberry. His 
widow survived him until 1851, and persistenlly refused 
a pension from the Government, saying ' that it was noth- 
ing but a patriotic duty for men to fight the British and 
the Indians, and they shouldn't be paid a cent for it.' She 
was an ai'dent Whig in polities, and to the day of her 
death persisted in calling Democrats 'Tories.' She was 
a sister of Governor Hall, of Tennessee, and five of her 
family — a father, two brothers, a sister, and a niece — went 
down in the storm of savage fury which swept over the 
infant settlements on the Cumberland. Her hate of In- 
dians was so strong that when the Cherokees passed her 
home, on their way west of the Blississippi, she shut her- 
self in the room and refused to appear as long as there was 
one in the vicinity. 

" Capt. Andrew Caruthers, the maternal, and Capt. Wil- 
liam Robinson, the paternal grandfather of Col. William 
B. Robinson, of this county, are buried on the farm of the 
latter, at Coldwater. Capt. Caruthers commanded a com- 
pany in Sevier's regiment at King's Mountain, and during 
the fight lost one of his low-quartered shoos, which gents 
of that day wore, even in the backwoods settlements on the 
Watauga. The writer has been honored, by his grand- 
son, with the gift of the sword he wielded on this eventful 
day, which, according to Jefi'erson, was the turning-point 
in the Revolution. It is needless to say that he values, as 

a priceless treasure, tliis old blade, which idealizes to him 
the grandest and most important epoch in the world's polit- 
ical history. A great empire, already playing a prominent 
part in the aifairs of this globe, and destined to continue 
to do so for ages to come, was firmly established by the 
events of this day ; and King's Mountain will be an eternal 
monument to the men who conquered on its summit, — • 
victors over kings' crowns and prerogatives, and stern vin- 
dicators of the God-given right of self-government. 

"In the troubles between Sevier and Tipton, Capt. Ca- 
ruthers sided with the latter against his old commander, 
and was in the battle which took place between the two fac- 
tions at Tipton's house. He died at his grandson's in 1828. 

" Capt. William Robinson began his rebellious career as 
a Regulator, and was in the defeat at Alamance, which 
necessitated his exile from the backwoods of Carolina, and 
his final settlement with many other compatriots at the in- 
fant colony on the Watauga. He commanded a company 
in Sevier's regiment at King's Blountain, and on this occa- 
sion probably tasted the sweetest revenge of his life. The 
bitter memories of Alamance were effaced in the presence 
of the most important victory ever won by the American 
armies. The Regulator of Alamance haA ^ exchanged the 
odium of llie outlaw for the glory of the 'patriot! 

" The ancestors of Capt. Robinson were Scottish Cove- 
nanters, and his grandson still has a Bible printed in 1632 
which has been in the family for more than two hundred 
and forty years. It is still in a good state of preservation, 
in spite of the wars through which it has passed. In Soot- 
land its hiding-place was under the bottom of a chair or 
stool, which was turned upside down when the fi\mily were 
engaged in reading and quickly reversed on the slightest 
alarm. It crossed the Atlantic with the family, and passed 
through the trying scenes of the Regulation, the Revolu- 
tion, the Indian wars in Tennessee, and finally through the 
late great struggle between the States. Its existence as a 
book bridges over and connects some of the grandest events 
in modern times, and its historic associations furnish abund- 
ant scope for the musings of the moralist and the philoso- 
pher. It recalls the Charles', Cromwell, and the Stuarts. 
In the most particular manner it brings to mind its ])crse- 
cutor, Claverhoiise, — a name despised by Scotchmen all 
over the globe, even to this generation, — and its defender, 
Argyle. One hundred years older than George Washing- 
ton it came to America, and has now survived wars and 
changes and many generations of its keepers. 

" Tills family has ' The Articles of Confession of the 
Church of Scotland,' published by Benjamin Franklin, at 
Philadelphia, in 1745 ; also a chest of obsolete manufacture, 
which has been in its possession for many generations. It, 
too, has a story. During the Revolution a British officer 
entered the house of Sirs. Robinson, and observing a num- 
ber of fresh corn-cobs in the fireplace, demanded some corn. 
On being refused he started towards the chest, where she 
had hid the corn a few minutes before his arrival, and 
threatened to break it open. Quick as thought she seized 
a heavy iron fire-shovel, and brandishing it over his head, 
dared him to make the attempt. He saw fight in her eye 
if he persisted, and ruffian as he was, he concluded it was 
safest to let her alone, which he did and left the house." 





Original Bounilarics — Division of llio County — Name — Civil Districts 
— Bounty Lands — State of Franlilin — Anomalous Position of David- 
son County. 

Davidson County was erected into a civil municipality 
by an act of the Legislature of North Carolina, approved 
Oct. G, 1783. This act defines the original boundaries of 
the county in the words following, to wit : 

" Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of 
North Carolina, and it is hereby enacted hy the author'ilij of 
the same, That all that part of the State lying west of the Cum- 
berland Mountain where the Virginia line crosses, extend- 
ing westward along the said line to Tennessee River, thence 
up said river to the mouth of Duck River, thence up Duck 
River to where the line of marked trees run by the Com- 
missioners for laying off land granted the Continental Line 
of this State intersects said river (which said line is sup- 
posed to be in thirty-five degrees fifty minutes north lati- 
tude), thence east along said line to the top of Cumberland 
Mountain, thence northwardly along said mountain to the 
beginning, shall after the passage of this act be, and is 
hereby declared to be a distinct County by the name of 

The area included in these boundaries embraced between 
eleven and twelve thousand square miles, lying alon" the 
northern line of the State from Cumberland Gap to the 
Tennessee River, and southward about fifty-six miles to the 
old military line run by the Commissioners of North Caro- 
lina. It embraced more than three-fourths of Middle 

The first division of this great county was made in 1786, 
when Sumner was erected from the northeastern portion of 
its territory. Tennessee County was formed in 1788, 
and remained a county until 1796, when the State, upon 
its admission, took its name, and its territory was divided 
into two counties named Robertson and Montgomery. Wil- 
son County on the east, and Williamson on the south, were 
taken ofi" in 1799.' Stewart County was formed in 1803, 
embracing the present counties of Houston, Humphreys, 
Perry, Wayne, and parts of Hardin and Lewis. Ruther- 
ford County was taken off from Davidson in 1804. Cheat- 
ham County was set ofi" from Davidson, Robertson, and 
Montgomery by act of Legislature, Feb. 28, 1856, which 
is the date at which Davidson County was reduced to its 
present limits. 

This county, like the other three west of the Appalachian 
Mountains, received its name from an officer of the army 
of the Revolution, Gen. William Davidson, of Mecklen- 
burg Co., N. C. He was a native of that part of the State 
which had early exhibited an enthusiastic devotion to inde- 
pendence. He sought and obtained a command, though of 
an inferior grade, in the Continental army. In that service 
he was considered a gallant officer, and acquired distinction. 

When the enemy overran South Carolina he left the 
regular service and was immediately commissioned a "-enoral 
in the North Carolina militia. In this new sphere of duty 
he manifested great zeal and public spirit. It was he whom 
Gen. McDowell sought to invite to take the chief command 

at King's Mountain. lie was constantly on the alert to 
disperse the Tories and annoy Lord Cornwallis, while his 
headquarters were at Charlotte. 

After the battle of Cowpens, Blorgan, in removing the 
prisoners for safe-keeping to Virginia, was pursued by the 
British army. Gen. Davidson, having under his command 
some active militiamen hastily collected in his neighborhood, 
endeavored to retard the pursuers, and at every river and 
creek caused them some delay ; and thus contributed essen- 
tially to the escape of the American army and the prisoners 
which encumbered its march. In this service Gen. David- 
son lost his life. On the 1st of February, 1781, the British 
army, accompanied by loyalists who knew the roads and 
crossing-places, came to the Catawba River, at Cowan's 
Ford, and began to cross. Davidson rode to the river to 
reconnoitre with the hope of devising some plan to keep 
them back, at least for a time. A Tory, who knew him, 
and who was in advance piloting the enemy, was near the 
bank, and shot liim. Knowing he was mortally wounded 
he rode back hastily to his men, gave some orders, and soon 
expired. An intrepid soldier, a true patriot, never did man 
love his country with more ardent affisction. His name 
should be ever dear to the people of North Carolina and 


The county of Davidson is divided into twenty-six civil 
or magisterial districts, of which the city of Nashville is 
the first district. Each of these (except Nashville) elects 
two magistrates or justices of the county. Nashville or 
district No. 1 elects two from each ward. The history of 
the formation of these districts is as follows : 

The act for organizing the " Inferior Court of Pleas and 
Quarter Sessions," or the first court of the county, was 
passed by the Legislature of North Carolina, Oct. 6, 1783. 
The place fixed upon for the court was " Nashborough," 
changed to " Nashville" in July, 178-4. At first the 
justices were appointed by the commissioners who were 
authorized by law to organize the court, and were chosen 
without respect to any definite divisional lines or districts. 
Subsequently the county was divided into military districts 
and justices were elected, two in each of these, till the 
change effected by the new constitution of 1834. 

On the 3d of December, 1835, an act was pas.sed " to 
provide for the laying off the several counties of the State 
into districts of convenient size in which justices of the 
peace and constables shall be elected, and for other pur- 
poses." The other purposes were convenience of designa- 
tion, elections, and school purposes. The act provided tjiat 
by a joint resolution of both branches of the As.sembly, 
commissioners should be appointed to lay out the districts. 
Section 6 says: " i?e it enacted, that it shall be the duty 
o"" the said commissioners in each acd every county in this 
State to number each and every district, and to make out 
a complete record of the boundaries of each when laid off 
under their hands, and also a copy of the same, one of 
which shall be filed in the office of the county court clerk 
in which it is situated, and the other shall be forthwith 
transmitted to the office of the Secretary of State, directed 
to that officer, and it shall be his duty carefully to preserve 
the same in his office." 



We fear very luueli that those officers, or the districting 
commissioners, failed to discharge their duty respecting the 
hitter requirements of tlis act, for we have searched both 
offices and have failed to find the returns and descriptions 
required to be deposited there. The couimissioners, tliere- 
foi'e, Tvhocver they ■were, have lost their place in this his- 
tory which we intended to give them. 

A law was passed in 1S56 for the redistricting, but was 

not carried into effect till 1859, at which date the districts 

as they now exist were formed by the commissioners, C. W. 

Nance and William H. Hogans, Esqs. The fourth section 

, of the act erecting the county provides as follows : 

" That the County Court of Davidson County shall ap- 
point an entry-taker, for the purpose of receiving entries of 
lands from those who are allowed pre-emptions by the law 
for laying oiF lands granted to the Continental Line of this 
State ; and as it has been suggested that the inhabitants of 
said County have no specie certificates, they shall be at 
liberty to pay at the rate of ten pounds* specie or specie 
certificates per hundred acres for the aforesaid pre-emp- 
tions, and shall be allowed tlie term of eighteen months to 
pay the same ; and that the heirs of all such persons who 
have died, leaving rights of pre-emption as aforesaid, shall 
be allowed the term of one year after coming of lawful age 
to secure their pre-emptions. Provided, That no grants shall 
be made for said lands until the purchase money shall be 
paid into the proper office."f 

The original act respecting these bounty-lands was passed 
in the form of a resolution by the Assembly of North Caro- 
lina in Blay, 1780. The State engaged to give to the offi- 
cers and soldiers in its line of the Continental army a bounty 
in lands in proportion to their respective grades. These 
lands were to be laid off upon the Cumberland, or in Mid- 
dle Tennessee, to all such as were then in the military 
service, and should continue till the end of the war, or such 
as from wounds or bodily infirmities had been, or should 
be, rendered unfit for the service, and to the heirs of such 
as had fallen or should fall in the defense of their country. 
" There never was a bounty more richly deserved or more 
ungrudgingly promised. It furnished to the war-worn sol- 
dier, or to his children, a home in the new and fertile lands 
of the West, where a competency at least, perhaps wealth, 
or even affluence, might follow after the storm of war was 
past, and where tlie serene evening of life might be spent 
in the contemplation of the eventful scenes of his earlier 
years, devoted to the service of his country and to the 
cause of freedom and independence." In pursuance of this 
provision of North Carolina, a land-office was established at 
Nashville ; the military lands were surveyed, and crowds of 
Ilevolutionary .soldiers came from the mother State and set- 
tled in Middle Tennessee, so that nine tenths of the early 
population were North Carolinians. 

Eights of pre-emption were first granted on the Cumber- 

»' At the time our government was formed the old Spanish milled 
dollar was in use, and $4.44 was fixed as the rate at which the pound 
sterling must be computed at our custom-houses. It is fair to take 
this as the rate at the period referred to in the above act; hence the 
price of the original bounty-lands in Davidson County ^vns/ort)/ /our 
cet'ts and /our mi'lh per acre. 

t Chap, lii., Acts of 17S3. 

land by the act of 1792. Sis hundred and forty acres 
were allowed to each family or head of a family. A simi- 
lar provision was made for each single man of the age of 
twenty-one years or upwards who had settled the lands be- 
fore the 1st of June, 1780. Such tracts were to include 
the improvements each settler had made. No right of pre- 
emption, however, was extended so as to include any salt- 
lick or salt-spring : these were reserved by the same act as 
public property, with six hundred and forty acres of adjoin- 
ing lands. The rest of the country was all declared open 
to pre-emption. 

To a brigadier-general the State gave twelve thousand 
acres, and to all the intermediate ranks in that proportion. 
To Gen. Nathaniel Greene twenty-five thousand acres were 
given " as a mark of the high sensi this State entertains 
of the extraordinary services of that brave and gallant 
officer." Absalom Tatum, Isaac Shelby, and Anthony 
Bledsoe were the appointed commissioners to lay off the 
lands thus allotted. The commissioners were accompanied 
by a guard of one hundred men. They came to the Cum- 
berland at the commencement of the year 1783. The 
Indians offered them no molestation while they were ex- 
ecuting the duties of their appointment. Proceeding to 
" Latitude Hill," on the Elk Eiver, to ascertain the thirty- 
fifth degree of north latitude, at which they were to start, 
they made their observation, and laid off at this point the 
twenty-five thoiisand acres donated to Gen. Greene. It was 
a princely and a well-deserved estate, embracing the best 
lands on Duck River, and perhaps the best in Tennessee. 
The commissioners then, fifty-five miles from the southern 
boundary and parallel thereto, ran the Continental or old 
Military Line, which was the southern base-linj of this 
county at the time it was formed. But the Assembly, at 
the request of the officers, during their session of 1783 
directed it to be laid off from the northern boundary fifty- 
five miles to the south. The commissioners also issued the 
necessary pre-emption rights to those who had settled on 
the Cumberland previous to June 1, 1780. 

Davidson County remained a part of North Carolina till 
the year 1790, when the territory now included in Ten- 
nessee having been ceded to Congress, was organized as 
the Territory of the United States southwest of the Ohio 
River. It was then included in Mero district under the 
Territorial government till that Was superseded by the State 
of Tennessee in 1796, 


This is the proper place to enter a brief record of tliis 
anomalous organization, inasmuch as an effort was made to 
draw Davidson County into it. In 1785 the three counties 
of P]astern Tennessee — Washington, Sullivan, and Greene 
— dismembered the State of North Carolina by forming 
within it a new State called the "State of Franklin." 
The Legislative Assembly of this new State convened for 
the first time in Jonesboro' on the 14th of November, 
1785. The records of it have unfortunately perished, so 
that the representatives from each of the counties cannot 
be ascertained. 

It is known that Landon Carter was speaker and Thomas 
Talbot clerk of the Senate, and William Cage speaker and 



Thomas Chapman clerk of the House. Thus organized the 
Assembly proceeded to the election of a Governor, when the 
choice fell upon John Sevier, afterwards the first Governor 
of Tennessee. A judiciary system was also established at 
this first session : David Campbell was elected judge of the 
Supreme Court, and Joshua Gist and John Anderson as- 
sociate judges. 

The original plan included Davidson County in this new 
State, but no representative from this county appeared, 
either at any of the conventions at which its preliminaries 
were arranged, or in its list of civil or military appoint- 
ments. The great distance of Davidson from the other 
counties and the feeling of loyalty to the old mother State 
probably prevented it. It is likely also that there were 
heads wise enough on the Cumberland at that time to fore- 
see and wish to avoid the conflict which such a State, within 
the jurisdiction of another, must inevitably result in sooner 
or later. That conflict soon came ; the counties held to- 
gether and made a desperate struggle to maintain their in- 
dependence for about a year ; Governor Sevier maintained 
his cause in a dauntless and heroic spirit, such as he had 
often displayed in the service of the old State and in the 
new settlement. Washington County seceded and sent lier 
representatives to the Assembly of North Carolina in 1786 ; 
Governor Sevier was arrested for high treason, and hurried 
away to Morgantown, N. C., for trial; his friends gathered 
a force and rescued him from the hands of the authorities ; 
the anomalous State was broken up, and all returned to 
their allegiance to North Carolina. Governor Sevier, al- 
though he rendered himself obnoxious to the authorities of 
North Carolina, never lost his hold upon the aifections of the 
people of Tennessee. They only waited an opportunity to 
vindicate him fully, and when the State was admitted into 
the Union he was chosen by their suff'rages to be its first 
honored chief magistrate. 

This portion of history, it is true, belongs more partic- 
ularly to East Tennessee, but we have introduced it here to 
show the anomalous position of Davidson County during 
the period of the existence of Franklin. It was the remote 
part of a dismembered State, lying in the heart of a wilder- 
ness, more than six hundred miles from the capital, and 
separated by an intervening government which sustained 
towards it no political relation. 



Geographical rosition of DaviJson County — Topography — Geology. 

The county of Davidson is situated in Middle Tennes- 
see, nearly equidistant from Che east and west lines of the 
State, and considerably north of the centre between the 
northern and southern boundaries. The centre of the 
county — or the United States signal station in the capitol 
grounds at Nashville — is in latitude 3(3° 10' 01. G" north, 
and in longitude 9° 44' 03'' west of Washington. 

The county is bounded on the north by Robertson and 

Sumner Counties ; on the east by Sumner, Wilson, and 
Rutherford; on the south by Williamson; and on the 
west by Cheatham. Its boundary-lines on all sides are 
more or less irregular, owing in part to the water-courses 
which form the divisional lines between it and adjoining 
counties, and partly to the arbitrary variations of course 
necessary to intersect points on these streams. The super- 
ficial area of the county is about five hundred and fifty 
square miles, or three hundred and fifty-two thousand acres. 


The general topographical features of the different sec- , 
tions of the State are well shown by the cut accompanying 
this article, furnished by Dr. J. M. Saffbrd. 

In order to form a correct understanding of the topog- 
raphy of Davidson County it will be necessary, in the first 
place, to take a brief general view of Middle Tennessee. 

This portion of the State has been classified under two 
divisions : first, the Highlands or Rim-lands (called also 
sometimes the Terrace-lands), which encircle a basin of rich 
lowlands in the centre of the State ; and second, the Central 
Basin, inclosed by the Highlands. The first of these di- 
visions, extending from the Cumberland table-land to the 
Tennessee River, has an average elevation of one thousand 
feet above the sea, and is diversified in places by rolling 
hills and wide valleys. For the most part, however, it is a 
flat plain, furrowed by numerous ravines and traversed by 
frequent .streams. The soil of this division is of varying 
fertility, but includes a number of sections of great agri- 
cultural importance. Its area is about nine thousand three 
hundred square miles. 

Within the compass of these Highlands, and surrounded 
by them, is " the great Central Basin, elliptical in shape, 
and resembling the bed of a drained lake. It may be com- 
pared to the bottom of an oval dish, of which the High- 
lands form the broad, flat brim. The soil of this basin is 
highly productive of all the crops suited to the latitude, 
and it has been well named the garden of Tennessee. It is 
of the first importance as an agricultural region. Its area 
is five thousand four hundred and fifty square miles, and it 
has an average depression of three hundred feet below the 
Hi2;hlands. This whole basin, with the surroundinsr Hi";h- 
lands, is slightly tilted towards the northwest, and has a 
less elevation on that side than on the other."* 

The situation of Davidson County, mostly within this 
basin, with its extreme western portion resting upon the 
Rim or Highlands, determines in a great measure its topog- 
raphy. For this reason much of the western part of the 
county, along its western boundary, is at a higher elevation 
and much more hilly than the central and eastern part. 
Along the western and northwestern borders arc many 
ridges or spurs which extend like fingers from the Rim or 
Highlands into the Basin. The western and northwestern 
lines of the county cross these ridges and their alternating 
deep valleys in many places, the latter being often rich and 
fertile and filled with well-cultivated farms. The broken 
character of this portion is due in good part to the fact 
that the Cumberland River, with its tributary the Harpeth, 

'■=■" Dr. Safford'ti Geology of Tennessee. 



here begins to cut its valley through the western High- 

The central and eastern portions of the county are gently 
rolling, in places swelling into considerable heights, often 
forming lines of rounded hills, and occasionally rising into 
prominent ridges. Besides the Paradise Ridge, which is 
really the edge of the western Highlands, already referred 
to, there are two principal ridges, viz., Harpeth Ridge 
(which itself may be regarded as a spur of the Highlands 
running far into the Basin and dividing the waters of the 
Cumberland from those of the Harpeth) and the ridge 
dividing the Harpeth from Little Harpeth. In addition 
to these are a number of low dividing ridges between the 
streams, making the sections in which they occur more or 
less rolling and hilly. 

To enter more minutely into the surface features of the 
county, we shall assume Nashville as the starting-point, and 
confine ourselves for the present to the south side of the 

land is for the most part high, rolling, and thin, though 
there are some excellent bottoms on the river. 

Taking the section east of Mill Creek and south of the 
Cumberland, we find the best soils for cotton, wheat, and 
clover in the county. The color of the soil, except in the 
alluvial bottoms, is mulatto, and the timber consists of 
poplar and white-oak, with a very small intermixture of 
maple and walnut. This section is drained by Mill Creek 
and Stone's River, with the exception of the fourth dis- 
trict, which is drained by Stoner's Creek mainly and Stone's 
River, and a considerable of it known as Jones' Bend is 
drained by tlie Cumberland. 

Turning our attention to the lands on the north side of 
the Cumberland, and beginning on the western side of the 
county, we meet with the B'larrowbone Hills, high, poor, 
gravelly, siliceous spurs jutting out from the Highlands, 
with minor spurs as numerous as the branches of a tree, 
and between these numerous streams with a hundred 





Cumberland River. South and southwest of the city is a 
series of rounded hills sweeping in almost a semicircle 
about the city. These hills are symmetrical in form, and 
rise very gently to the height of one hundred and fifty or 
two hundred feet. Between them and the city the soil, 
considerably mixed with rocky fragment, rests upon a bed 
of limestone that comes very near the surface in many 
places ; but the soil is generally quite fertile. 

With a radius of nine miles, if the segment of a circle 
were described from the Cumberland River opposite Bell's 
Bend to Mill Creek, it would inclose a body of as fertile 
land as can be found in the State. With a slightly^rolling 
surface, just suEBcient for drainage, it grows in large quan- 
tities all the crops cultivated in the Central Basin. This 
area is drained by Richland Creek, Little Harpeth, Brown's 
Creek, and Mill Creek. It embraces the seventh, eighth, 
ninth, and eleventh districts and parts of the tenth, twelfth, 
and fourteenth. This section embraces the best blue-grass 
lands in the county. The native growth is poplar, walnut, 
maple, and several varieties of oak. Beyond this segment, 
on the west, is a dividing ridge, heretofore spoken of as 
Harpeth Ridge, running east and west. South of Harpeth 
River, and including most of the fourteenth district, the 

branches ramify the whole country. A bold ridge runs 
north and south for a few miles and culminates in Paradise 
Hill, from which the waters flow in every direction. Almost 
the whole country embraced between White's Creek and 
the Cheatham County line is rugged and poor, with the 
exception of the river and creek bottoms and some of the 
uplands near the Cumberland. The lowlands on the upper 
part of White's Creek are very narrow. Nearer the mouth 
the bottoms become wider and the uplands more fertile. 
The soils on this creek are well adapted to the cereals, and 
grow blue-grass luxuriantly. East of White's Creek and 
embraced between that and the Cumberland River on the 
east and south, and" comprising the eighteenth, nineteenth, 
twentieth, twenty-first, and part of the twenty-second dis- 
tricts, the country is considerably diversified, though not 
so broken as the last section just described. In the por- 
tion of the county under consideration there are some good, 
warm valley lands, with occasional ridges or spurs too steep 
for cultivation. The soil is a mulatto, with a good many 
surface rocks, and, with the exception of a portion of 
Neeley's Bend, is well suited to the growth of wheat, corn, 
potatoes, and clover. The soil in a portion of Neeley's 
Bend is dark and well adapted to the grasses. This section 




is well drained by White's Creek and its tributaries on the 
west, and by Blansker's Creek on the east, and Dry Creek 
through the centre. The northern part of this section 
abuts against the Highlands, and many finger-like projec- 
tions shoot out from these into the lowlands, between which 
nestle many beautiful coves, whose southern exposures 
shorten the number of the frost days and woo spring to 
their embrace some weeks earlier than the bleak level 
plateau overlooking them from the north. The soil and 
situation here are suitable for the growth of early vege- 
tables. The only serious objection to this area is the 
nearness of the underlying rocks to the surface, rendering 
it unable to resist drought. The corn crops are often 
materially injured with a few days of dry, hot weather in 
summer. In seasons of great humidity, however, the crops 
are unusually large, and many of the fields in this portion 
of the county will with suitable seasons yield from fifty to 
sixty bushels of corn per acre.* 


The Cumberland River, in a course remarkable for its 
sinuosity, passes through the county from east to west, di- 
viding it into two nearly equal parts. This river takes its 
rise in the Cumberland table-land, very near its eastern 
margin, its branches spreading out like the fibrous roots of 
a tree, many of the head-springs of which are within a 
mile or two of some of the tributaries of the Tennessee 
River. These various small streams, which have their 
sources upon the eastern margin of the table-land, unite 
and reunite, forming the main Cumberland. IMore than 
half of these take their rise in Kentucky and the remain- 
der in Tennessee, the latter making the Big South Fork, 
down which flat-boats occasionally descend. This stream 
unites with the Cumberland in Pulaski Co., Ky., just after 
leaving the limits of the table-land. A short distance from 
the point of union the river turns and flows to the south- 
west, entering the State of Tennessee in Clay County, 
passing through Jackson and Smith. In Smith it assumes 
a westerly direction, flowing through the rich lands of 
Trousdale, forms the boundary-line between Wilson and 
Sumner, turns again to the southwest, passes on through 
Davidson County, and at Nashville again resumes its north- 
westerly direction through Cheatham, Blonlgomery, and 
Stewart Counties, approaching within a few miles of the 
Tennessee River at the State line, and finally debouches 
into the Ohio River on nearly the same parallel of latitude 
in which some of its main branches take their rise. Its 
entire length is about six hundred and fifty miles, five hun- 
dred and ninety-five of which can be made navigable. 
Three hundred and four miles of this river are in the State 
of Tennessee. 

At the Falls, in Whitley Co., Ky., the river is precipi- 
tated over conglomerate with a vertical fall of sixty-three 
feet. The range between high and low water at Point 
Burnside is 65.5 feet. At Nashville the high water of 
February, 1847, was 52.9 ; of March, 1867, 50.3 feet. An 
ordinary rise of 33.8 feet at Nashville is equivalent to 15 

* Resources of Tennessee. 

feet at the foot of Smith's Shoals and 5 feet at the head, 
which is called a coal-boat tide, the stage of water at which 
the coal-barges are just able to pass the rapids. At Gower'a 
Island the range is 41.6 feet; at Harpeth Shoals, forty i 
miles below Nashville, it is 39.3 feet ; below Davis' Rip- 
ple it is 55.8 ; at Clarksville, sixty-five miles below Nash- 
ville, it is 56.3 ; at the Tennessee RoUing-BIills, one hun- 
dred and forty-five miles from Nashville, the liigh water of 
Blarch 14, 1863, was 53.8 ; of March 14, 1867, 55.2. At 
the mouth of the river, one hundred and ninety-two miles ; 
from Nashville, and five hundred and fifty-two miles from 
Point Burnside, the range is 51 feet. As the great floods 
occur in February and March, before the crops are planted, 
the destruction from high water is not as great as takes 
place upon the Arkansas, the Red River, and the Missis- 
sippi, where the bottoms are less elevated, and where the 
greatest floods often occur in June and July.f | 

From the Falls to Point Burnside the river flows in a ] 
narrow gorge which it has excavated out of the sub-carbon- ! 
iferous sandstone, conglomerate, and cavernous limestone ! 
at a depth of three hundred to four hundred feet below the 
highland plateau. The river in this distance varies from 
one hundred to six hundred and fifty feet in width, but the 
gorge is more uniforrii, increasing gradually from five hun- 
dred to seven hundred feet. In this part of its course the 
river is approachable by roads, which are exceedingly 
rough, resembling irregular flights of stone steps, hardly 
practicable on horseback, but exhibiting at every turn, as 
they descend the sides of the bluffs, wild and picturesque 
clefts of rock. At Point Burnside the gorge widens, and 
bottoms appear of suflBcient extent to be cultivated. The 
river continues to flow through a rocky bed with bluffs of 
limestone, and with a valley varying from one-half to one 
mile wide, as far as Carthage, where the valley extends 
upon the south side into the Central Basin. The river 
follows the northern edge of the Highland Rim until it 
leaves the Basin and re-enters the Highlands, about fourteen 
miles below Nashville. It continues to flow through the 
intersecting ridges and valleys of the Highland Rim, with 
bottoms about a mile wide and gradually increasing in 
length and encroaching on the bluffs of siliceous limestone, 
until it enters the upheaved sandstone and coal of Living- 
ston County at its mouth. In the latter part of its course 
its width varies from six hundred to seven hundred feet, 
and its banks, where composed of alluvium, begin to exhibit 
evidences of change, which shows itself in the bars. 


In this chapter on geology we have thought it best, at 
the outset, to introduce an outline of the general American 
geological system, in connection with a column showing the 
local formations in the State of Tennessee. This will en- 
able the reader to understand better the relation of the local 
geology of Tennes.see to the general system, of which it is 
an interesting part. The table has been carefully com- 
piled from Dr. J. JI. S.ifford's latest researches, and is 
presumed to be accurate. 

"I" Col. S. T. Abert in Kesources of Tennessee. 






AjiEElciN Periods. 

Tennissf.e Division. 


^ <U <D 

5 -g M 




(c) Alluvium. 
(6) Bluff Loam, 
(o) Orange Sand. 





« o ri 


{b) La Grange Sand. 

(a) Flatwoods Sand, 




<; o, 



(e) Ripley. 

(t) Rotten Limestone. 

(a) Coffee Sand. 









O j^ 

■ <s 

■ r 




15 Permian. 


14 Carboniferous, or 
Coal Measures. 

(c) Upper Coal Measure. 

(&) Conglomeraie. 

(a) Lower Coal Measure. 

13 Subcarboniferous. 

(c) Mount. Limestone. 
(6) Coral or St. Louis 

(f() Barren Group. 


o , 




12 CatsUill. 

11 Chemung. 

10 Hamilton. 

Black Sbale. 

9 Corniferous. 


1— 1 














8 risk any. 


7 Helderberg. 


6 Salina. 

5 Niagara. 

(c) Clifton. 

(/)) Dyestone Group. 

(a) Clinch Sandstone. 




4 Trenton. 

(6) Nashville, 
(a) Lebanon. 

.S Canadian. 

(6) Lenoir. 

(a) Knox Group. 

■ 2 Primordial. 

(6) Chilhowee S. 
(a) Ocoee Group. 

1 Archoean. 


It will be seen by the preceding table, and also by the 
map accompanying Dr. Safford's Geology, that the State 
of Tennes.see is far from exhibiting a complete geolog- 
ical series, such as is shown in New York and Pennsylvania. 
The completeness of the formations in these latter States 
has been referred to as a standard by American geologists; 
but several of the number, though very thick in New York 
and Pennsylvania, grow thinner when traced southward 
and disappear before reaching Tennessee. " Others, ex- 
tending farther south or southwest, have their feather 
edges in Tennessee, as, for instance, the Lower Ilelder- 
herg and, to a certain extent, the Black Shale, as well as 
the sub-group of the Niagara, — tiie Clinch Mountain Sand- 
stone. The Tennessee series is therefore less complete than 
the northern. Not only are some of the formations wholly 
absent, but others are reduced to very thin beds." The 
same is true of the sub-groups of the Cretaceous ferther 
south, which are heavy in the States of Alabama and Slis- 
sissippi, but in Tennessee thin out and disappear. 

The surface distribution of the various formations of the 
State may be seen perfectly by consulting Dr. Safford's ex- 
cellent map, as also their full description and lithological 
characters will be found detailed in the text of his work. 
We can only give in the space at our command a brief out- 
line of the location or distribution of these formations. 

The lowest or metamorphic rocks are wholly confined 
to East Tennessee, and in that division they only occur as 
detached areas or sections immediately along the North 
Carolina line. Next west of this, along the Unaka Chain, 
and forming its bold and isolated spurs, appears the Chil- 
howee, or Potsdam sandstone. The beautiful and fluted 
valley of East Tennessee is made up of the Knoxville 
group and the Trenton formation, the former not appear- 
ing in any other part of the State. The Trenton extends 
westward, and with the Nashville forms the Great Basin 
of Middle Tennessee. This Great Basin is geologically, as 
well as agriculturally, one of the most interesting portions 
of the State, and as it contains the major part of the county 
of Davidson, situated in its west side and lying partly upon 
its Highland Rim, it will be proper to bestow upon it more 
than a passing notice. 

The Central Basin of Middle Tennessee, embracing an 
area of five thousand four hundred and fifty square miles, 
has been denuded of the whole series of the Upper Silu- 
rian and Devonian formations, extending from the Trenton 
and Nashville limestone of the Lower Silurian to the sub- 
carboniferous epoch. " Originally, when continuous," says 
Dr. Safford, " the strata rose up in a slightly-elevated dome, 
the summit of which was over the central part of Ruther- 
ford County. Taking the formation of the flat Highlands 
around the Basin as the topmost of the dome, the amount 
of matter removed at this point could not have been less in 
vertical thickness than 1300 feet." 

It would be easy to account for the removal of this vast 
mass of matter on the supposition of a disturbance of the 
strata. Going back to the period when the formations were 
continuous, we should see that they lay buried beneath the 
sub-carboniferous ocean which then covered a large portion 
of the continent. Eventually there came a time when the 
strata were broken- and upheaved by internal force, and the 



currents of the ocean rushing into its fissures and caves, 
perhaps undermining the whole elevated and partially- 
broken mass, and wearing it on all sides, began the process 
of disintegration and excavation by which the Basin was 
finally scooped out. This process, no doubt, accounts for 
many of the remarkable denudations which have taken 
place in diiFerent parts of the country. But the Central 
Basin of Middle Tennessee presents no evidence of a general 
upheaval, although local disturbances niaj' have occurred in 
diflferent parts of the basin, and probably caused the slight 
elevation at the centre referred to as the dome- over 5Iur- 
freesboro'. A general upheaval is entirely incompatible 
with the fact stated by Dr. SaflFord, that " throughout the 
Basin remnants of the strata have been left in the hills and 
ridges; these remnants always occurring in a certain order, 
building up the hills and giving to them a like geological 
structure. All sides of the Basin present the outcropping 
edges of the same strata in the same order. That the hills 
have a like structure results necessarily from the nature of 
the case, the Basin having been scooped out from horizontal 
strata, and the hills and ridges being simply portions left 
by the denuding agencies. 

" What tliese agencies were is a question of interest. 
The simplest theory is that the work has been done by run- 
ning water, aided more or less by frost. The waters of the 
Cumberland, Duck, and Elk Rivers are 7wiv at work 
washing down the hill-sides and deepening the lower areas ; 
and it is not improbable that the same waters commenced 
the excavation of the Basin, each branch creek and rill 
doing its part of the work. This, of course, has required 
long ages of time, during which the streams have been 
constantly changing and deepening their ciiannels and 
their immediate local valleys. The Basin is the aggregate 
result of the work of all the streams, small and great." 

The Cumberland, Duck, and Elk Rivers furnished the 
first axes of depression when, starting down from the table- 
land, ages ago, they cut the first valleys through what is 
now the Basin, and made an opportunity for other streams 
to flow into it. A perfect type of this may be seen any 
day in the action of the surface-water after a heavy rain. 
However small the channel made at first, other innumer- 
able little rills begin to run into it, and to wear and carry 
away the soil. It only needs the constant supply of water 
for a sufiScient length of time to excavate great valleys and 
wear the hard, rocky formation to a depth and extent 
hardly conceived of when considering the apparently slow 
process by which the work is carried on by many of our 
streams and rivers. Such is no doubt the manner in which 
the great Central Basin has been excavated. 

At the bottom of this great Central Basin occur the rocks 
of the Trenton or Lebanon formation, occupying nearly 
half of its area. The strata and the bottom of the Basin 
are slightly tilted to the west, the rooks outcropping at a 
higher elevation on the east side, and sinking below the 
rivers at or near Nashville, Franklin, and Columbia, re- 
spectively. " Nearly all of Wilson, Rutherford, Bedford, 
and Marshall Counties are within the outcrop of the 
Trenton formation. . . . This formation is one of great 
interest, especially in an agricultural point of view. The 
soils it yields are among the best. To the paleontologist 

it is an inviting field, its strata presenting a rich fossil 

We give below from Dr. Safford's report a section show- 
ing the beds of this formation in their natural order, as 
follows : 

(5.) Carter s Creek Limestone. — ( Topmost?) A heavy- 
bedded, light-blue, or dove-colored limestone, the upper 
part often gray ; contains Stromalapora ragosa, Column- 
aria ahocoldta, Tetradiiim columnare, Petraia profunda, 
Stroplwmena filistexta, Rhynchonella reciirvirostra, Ortlio- 
ceras Bigshiji, 0. Huronense, Pleurotomaria lapicida, etc. 
The thickness of the stratum is from fifty to one hundred 

(4.) The Glade Limestone. — A stratum of light-blue, 
thin-bedded, or flaggy limestone. Pre-eminently the bed 
of tlie great " Cedar Glades' of the Central Basin. Con- 
tains Strophomena, S. Jilistexta, Orthis dejlecta, 0. per- 
verta, 0. triceniiria, Rhynchonella orientalis, Cyrtodonta 
ohtusa, Trochonema umhilicata, Orthoceras rapax, Illse.- 
nus Americanus, Lcperditia fabuliles, etc. Maximum 
thickness, one hundred and twenty feet. 

(3.) The Ridley Limestone. — Next below is this stratum, 
a group of heavy-bedded, light-blue, or dove-colored lime- 
stone. Some of its fossils are as follows : Orthoceras 
anceps, Stromalapora rugosa, Columnaria alveolata, Or- 
this hellarugosa, Camerella varians, Rhynchonella Ridley- 
ana, etc. The maximum thickness observed is ninety-five 

(2.) Pierce Limestone. — A group of thin-bedded, flaggy 
limestones, with generally a heavy-bedded layer near the 
base. These reeks are highly fossiliferous, and abound in 
Bryozoa. Among the fossils are Orthis Stonensis, Rhyn- 
chonella Ridleyana, Dahnaniles Troosti, etc. The group 
has a maximum thickness of twenty-seven feet. 

(1.) Central Limestone. — An important group of thick- 
bedded, cherty limestones, of a light-blue or dove color. 
Contains Salterella Billingsi and Leperditia fahulites in 
abundance ; also Cyrloccras Stonense, Trochonema umhili- 
cata, Helicotoma Tennesseensis, H. declivis, Rhynchonella 
altilis, etc. 

This* bed is the bottom-rock of the Central Basin, and 
presents in the heaviest exposures a thickness of about one 
hundred feet. 

The lands of the basin fall naturally into two divisions, 
the two being underlaid respectively by the Trenton and 
Nashville formations. To one group of lands we may 
give the name of Trenton, to the other Nashville. The 
soils derived from the Trenton rocks are, as a general rule, 
more clayey than those from the Nashville beds, the latter 
containing more sandy or siliceous matter. Stone for build- 
ing purposes is obtained from all the heavy-bedded divisions 
of the Trenton, the upper part of the Carter's Creek divi- 
sion supplying a very superior article. This whitish-gray 
and beautiful limestone is quarried extensively in Maury 
County, and is conveniently located along the line of the 

In Davidson County the Nashville, or Hudson River 
group, is the prevailing formation. The passage from the 
Trenton to this formation is well marked and abrupt. This 
is well seen at Columbia and at all other points in the Cen- 



tval Basin, where tliis rock -horizon is accessible. The 
Trenton ends with h'ght-colored, heavy-bedded limestones 
(immediately at the top, often thin-bedded, with clayey 
seams), and the Nashville begins with a siliceous, blue, 
calcareous rock, weathering often into earthy, buff, sandy 
masses, and sometimes into shales. The impurities consist 
of clay and fine sand. A detailed section of the rocks as 
they occur in Nashville, and which may be taken as a type 
of the whole county, was made out by Dr. Safford. This 
section, given below, commences under the Wire Bridge 
and ascends to the top of Capitol Hill. The section is num- 
bered from the bottom up, but the highest is described first : 


(6.) College Hill Liini'stone. — When freshly quarried 
a dark-blue, highly fossiliferous, coarsely crystalline, and 
roughly-stratified limestone, with more or less of its 
laminae shaly. The mass weathers, generally, into rough, 
flaggy limestones and shaly matter, interstratified, often 
liberating multitudes of fossils, especially small corals. 
Some of the layers of this limestone are wholly made up 
of corals and shells. Stenoporse., Constelaria antliehidea, 
Tetradium Jibratuni, Colnmnariii slellata, Stromatrqyora 
pvslnlosa, Stropliomena altcrnata, Ortliis lynx, 0. occi- 
dentalis, and others are abundantly represented by indi- 
viduals. Belleropihon Troosti, species of Q/rtodonta, Am- 
honycliia radlata, occur, and, in fact, nearly all the forms 
given in column M of Dr. Safford's catalogue. The divi- 
sion is well seen on College Hill, and in the upper part of 
the bluff at the Reservoir. There is also a fine presenta- 
tion of it on Capitol Hill, around the eapitol. Its lowest 
layers are at the top of the bluff at the Wire Bridge. 
These rocks pertain to the highest stratum in the vicinity 
of Nashville. This division at Capitol Hill measures one 
hundred and twenty feet. 

(5.) Cyrtodonta Bed. — -Iraraediately below the College 
Hill limestone is a remarkable bed of coarsely crystalline, 
ashen-gray, or light yellowish-gray limestone, in great part 
made up of valves of species of Cyrtodonta, individuals of 
BelleropJwn Lindsleyi, and B. Troosti. This bed is best 
developed in the bluff at the Wire Bridge. It is here ten 
or eleven feet thick, and forms one solid layer. The shells 
are silicified, and pretty generally have their edges rounded 
and worn, as if they had been rolled in currents of water, 
or by waves. The bed is seen again at the engine-house 
of the Water- Works, where it is six feet thick. In tracing 
it beyond the engine-house it very soon runs out, and is 
replaced by a compact, dove-colored limestone, like No. 3 
below. . . . This rock has been used for building purposes 
to some extent, and for making corner-posts. Maximum 
thickness, eleven feet. 

(4.) Bed of limestone of the common type ; much like 
the College Hill limestone, coarsely crystalline, fossil- 
iferous, etc. It occurs below No. 5, on the west side of the 
eapitol. In the bluff at the Wire Bridge it is twenty- 
three feet thick. In the bluff above the engine-house of 
the Water- Works it me.isures twenty-eight feet. 

(3.) Dove Limestone. — This is a group of thin layers for 
the most part. The upper layer is a light dove-colored, 
compact limestone, four feet thick, breaking conchoidal 

fracture, containing strings (mostly vertical) of cry.stallino 
matter, which show points on a horizontal surface (Birds- 
eyes). The middle layer is mainly the common, dark-blue, 
crystalline limestone (two feet). The lowest layer (four 
feet) is mostly like the upper, but more or less mixed with 
blue layers. Such is the group to be seen at the foot of 
Gray Street, in a quarry on the river-bank. This group 
presents itself at many points in and around the city. . . . 
It appears at many points in Davidson County outside of 
Nashville. The layers are generally of desirable thickness, 
and are quarried at numerous points in and about the city 
for building and other purposes. 

The group contains a number of .species. Detached 
siphuncles of Orlhoceras Bigshyi and of an allied species 
are numerous at some points, especially in the middle layer. 
Tetradium, Belleroplion, Murchisonia, Plnrotomaria , and 
other genera are represented. It is in this group Leperditia 
ilorgani is found. Thickness, eleven feet. 

(2.) Capitol Limestone. — This bed supplied the rock to 
build the eapitol, and was formerly well exposed in the old 
State quarry west and in sight of the building. It is lime- 
stone, but has the appearance of a laminated sandstone. It 
is, in fact, a consolidated bed of calcareous sand, the sand 
being the comminuted fragments of shells and corals. 
Originally the mass was drifted in running water, and 
arranged in laminfe. As we find the rock now it is, when 
quarried, a massive, bluish-gray, granular limestone, with a 
well-marked lamillar structure. When cut and ground 
smooth a block of it presented edgewise shows well the 
laminar character. Such a surface is bluish-gray, plenti- 
fully banded with darker lines. The eapitol is a splendid 
presentation of this rook as a building material. The rock 
often contains rolled fragments of the beaded siphuncles of 
species of Orthoceras. Some specimens of these are seen in 
the faces of the blocks in the walls of the eapitol. It exhibits 
also examples of cross-stratification, another evidence of the 
current action to which it was originally subjected. The 
mass contains some little siliceous matter, mostly in grains 
and in small fragments of silicified shells, so that they do 
not interfere materially with the working of the rock. It 
is easily quarried, and can be obtained in blocks of any de- 
sirable size. In its natural exposure it exfoliates in laminae 
by long weathering. 

The bed pretty generally underlies the city, has been 
quarried at the foot of Gray Street, on the river, is near the 
water under the Wire Bridge, and appears beyond the 
Water-Works, where it has also been quarried, and is 
twenty feet thick. The lamellar structure of this bed runs 
into the one just below to some extent, and it is not always 
easy to draw a line of separation. Below the Wire Bridge 
my measurements make the thickness of the bed twenty- 
five feet. 

(1.) The Orthis Bed underlies the last, and is the lowest 
member of the Nashville formation. It is in the water 
below the Wire Bridge, but rises in going down the river, 
and may be studied in the bluff below the railroad bridge. 
It may be seen, too, and its orthis gathered at the first mile- 
stone on the Murfreosboro' turnpike. It rises at the end of 
the bluff beyond the Water-Works, and still farther east, as 
at Slount Olivet, it may be" seen resting on the Carter's 



Creek Limestone, — the upper member of the Trenton for- 
mation. It lias, however, been described, and its thickness 

One of these strata takes the name of the Bosley stone, 
and is quarried in the tenth and eleventii districts, near the 
Hillsboro' turnpike. It is a light-gray, fine-grained, and 
easily-worked limestone, and makes a handsome, durable 
front. Quite a number of the fronts of the best buildings 
in Nashville are made of this stone ; among'others may be 
mentioned that of the Methodist Book Concern and En- 
sley's Block adjoining, also the elegant front of Burns' 
Block. This rock is also quarried in Bell's Bend, below 

There is a large number of minerals found in the county^ 
but in such small quantities as to be undeserving of notice. 

The sulphur-springs are numerous, the most famous of 
which is situated within the corporate limits of Nashville, 
which was bored to a great depth in search of salt. The 
water is much used during the summer months, and large 
quantities are sold' on the streets by boys. In the early his- 
tory of the country this spring was known as the Big 
French Lick, called so because a Frenchman, BI. Charle- 
ville, from New Orleans, built his cabin on the mound on 
the north side of Spring Branch as early as 1714. 



17S.3, Pruitt's Engagement — Jlilitiiiy Orgiinizations at tlie Sf.alions — ■' 
17S8, Diplomacy of Col. James Robert:<oii — Death of Col. Anthony 
Bledsoe — Attack on MaylielJ's Station — 1789, Robertson adopts an 
Aggressive Policy — Pursuit of the Enemy — Bold nnd Successful 
Charge of Capt. Williams— 1790, Treaty with the Creeks— 1791, 
Treaty at Knoxville with the Cherokees — Defense of Davidson 

Early in the year commissioners appointed by the State 
of North Carolina to lay off lands for Revolutionary soldiers, 
and examine claims to pre-emption rights by the Cumber- 
land settlers, arrived at Nashborough accompanied by a 
guard of one hundred soldiers. The advent of this large 
force gave hopes of better security from Indian depreda- 
tions, but in this the people were disappointed. These sol- 
diers limited their services to the duty of guarding the com- 
missioners while engaged in their surveys. This work done 
they returned whence they came, leaving the distressed 
settlers again to their own resources. Many murders and 
outrages were committed even during the presence of the 
soldiers in the country. These at length grew so frequent 
that on an incursion being made, in which many horses 
were taken from the vicinity of the Bluff, Capt. William 
Pruitt, who had been recently elected to embody the citi- 
zens of that place for their better defense, raised twenty 
men for the pursuit at once, and took the trail. The officers 
of his company were as follows : Samuel Martin and John 
Buchanan, first and second lieutenants, and William Over- 
all, ensign. There is no record of how many of these were 
in the pursuit; if any of them were present, their names 

are sufficient guarantee of duty well performed. The trail 
led south to a point on Richland Creek, probably in Giles 
County, where he overtook the marauders, when by a rapid 
charge he dispersed them, although in greatly superior 
numbers, and recaptured the horses without losing a man. 
On his return he encamped for the night at a creek falling 
into Duck River on the north side. The Indians having 
discovered in the mean time the disparity of the whites, 
and smarting under defeat and the loss of the horses, re- 
turned on his trail and attacked his rear as he was in the 
act of leaving his camp about daylight. Moses Brown, in 
the rear, fell at the first fire. The whites being encum- 
bered by the horses in the thick cane, retreated about a 
mile and a half, when, on reaching the open woods, they 
halted and formed a line. The enemy soon came on and 
made regular dispositions for battle by forming lines for 
front and flank attacks. They then advanced steadily 
under fire of the whites, who stood bravely to their 
posts until it was evident that further resistance at this 
place would endanger the safety of the entire party. They 
thereupon retreated, Daniel Johnson and Daniel Pruitt 
being killed and Morris Shaw and others wounded. To 
make their retreat sure, they were compelled to abandon the 
horses for which they had struggled so hard. This species 
of property was esteemed the most valuable of the pioneers' 
possessions; it was indispensable in the cultivation of the 
soil, upon which was based the occupation and settlement 
of the country. With the losses stated the company made 
its way back to the Bluff without further molestation. The 
Indians exulted greatly in their victory, and the whites were 
correspondingly depressed from the loss of so much valu- 
able property. The Pruitts, being recent arrivals in the, 
settlement, sought to palliate the disaster by condemning 
the tree-to-tree manner of fighting practiced on the fron- 
tier, claiming that dash and boldness were the proper 
methods of contending with Indians, which observation 
was very true when there was anything like a party of 
numbers, or the situation different from that in which he 
was placed on this occasion. If he had been free-handed 
or unencumbered with horses it is quite probable he could 
have made a different showing for himself and his brave 
little band. It further deserves the notice given it from the 
hardihood and resolution displayed by the actors in follow- 
ing and attacking successfully a greatly superior force at 
such a distance (over sixty miles) from their base. 

It was in this year, 1783, that something like a military 
establishment was formed by the committee which met at 
Nashborough March 15th, and was constituted as to the 
officers as follows, as appears from this extract from its 
records : " It being thought necessary for our better defense 
in these times of danger that ofiicers be chosen in each 
respective station to embody the inhabitants for their 
greater security. Accordingly there was made choice of at 
Nashborough William Pruitt for captain, Samuel Martin 
and John Buchanan for first and second lieutenants, and 
William Overall ensign. ^ '\ 

" At Heatonsburg [Eaton's], Josiah Ramsey, captain ; 
James Hollis, lieutenant ; and Joshua Thomas, ensign. 

"At Freeland's Station, Joshua Howard, captain ; James 
Donelson, lieutenant ; and John Dunham, ensign. 



" At Mansker's, Isaac Bledsoe, captain ; Jasper Manskev, 
lieutenant; James Linn, ensign. 

" At Maukling's, Francis Prince, captain ; Ambrose 
Maulding, lieutenant." 

By act of the Assembly of October 6, 1783, the State 
extends its authority over the Cumberland settlements 
which were organized into Davidson County. The military 
establishment under this act was as follows: Anthony 
Bledsoe, first colonel; Isaac Bledsoe, first major; Samuel 
Barton, second major ; Casper Manskor, first captain ; 
George Freeland, second captain; John Buchanan, third 
captain ;_ James Ford, fourth captain; William Ramsey, 
Jonathan Drake, Ambrose Maulding, and Peter Sides, 
lieutenants ;. William Collins and Elmore Douglas, ensigns. 
The opening of the year 1788 soon brought its record of 
Indian murder and devastation. Col. Robertson, ever mind- 
ful of the interests of his people, now had recourse to a 
piece of diplomacy which shows him to have been a man 
of much intellectual grasp and breadth of view. He ad- 
dressed a very able communication to Gen. McGillivray, the 
renowned chief and head of the Creek Nation, in which he 
indicated the " manifest destiny" of the Western settle- 
ments to and in their supremacy over the greao valley of 
the Mississippi, and appealed directly to his interest in 
maintaining the most friendly relations with them. An- 
drew Ewing and James Hoggatt were the ambassadors, 
and deserve great credit for the hardihood and courage 
with which they penetrated the wilderness more than two 
hundred miles amid the dangers and privations incident to 
a journey of this kind. McGillivray, who had been edu- 
cated at Charleston, S. C, replied in a manner which gave 
much satisfaction and excited great hopes that hostilities 
from that quarter would in a great measure cease if the 
frontiiJrsmen would only exercise patience and forbearance. 
In consequence of these assurances and the pendency of 
negotiations in furtherance of peace. Gen. Robertson felt 
necessitated to a strictly defensive policy for this year, 
although the warfiire continued as bitter as ever and num- 
bered among its victims not only one of his dearest friends. 
Col. Anthony Bledsoe, but his own son. It is a strong 
tribute to his fortitude and public virtue that under these 
circumstances he restrained his feelings in the hope of an 
adjustment, and refused to allow any retaliatory expeditions 
to be undertaken or even pursuit to be made, judging from 
the barrenness of the record of such measures. 

Although no attempts were made to force a direct en- 
trance into any of the forts, several affairs occurred which 
resulted in serious calamities to the country in the death of 
several of its first citizens. The killing of Col. Anthony 
Bledsoe has been mentioned. This circumstance, though 
taking place outside of the limits of Davidson County, 
deserves more than a pa.ssing notice, on account of the 
prominent relation of the victim and his family to the 
■founding and upbuilding of the Cumberland settlement. 
This event occurred at his fort at Bledsoe's Lick, now Cas- 
tilian Springs, in Sumner County, on the night of July 
2Utli. The houses were surrounded by the usual stockade, 
except that of Col. Bledsoe and his brother Isaac, which 
was double and formed a section of the stockade ; the 
passage between the two rooms was open and not barred 

in any way, being thought secure. The road ran along the 
front, being intersected opposite the passage by a lane. 
About midnight he heard the sound of horses' feet rushing 
along the road in front of the fort, when he hastily arose, 
and calling James Campbell, an Irish servant, to go with 
him, they stepped out into the passage, through which the 
moonlight was falling in full splendor. At this instant a 
heavy volley was poured into the passage from the corners 
of the fences a few jiaces off, when Campbell fell dead and 
Col. Bledsoe was mortally wounded in the abdomen. The 
rtis''. of the enemy in having a party to dash by on horse- 
back was unfortunately but too successful. It so happened 
that soine of the infantry force of Evans' battalion had 
been discharged about that time, and were making prepara- 
tions to I'cturn across the mountain the next day. The 
settlers were apprehensive that they would steal some horses 
upon which to make their journey, and were on the look- 
out to pursue promptly and recover them. It was with 
this view that Col. Bledsoe rushed out of his room, calling 
upon the inmates of the station to follow and recover the 
stolen horses. The fire that was opened upon Campbell 
and himself instantly apprised those within who had not 
appeared of the nature of the case, and prompt measures 
were taken for defense. The fires were instantly put out, 
and William Hall, Hugh Rogan, and others repaired to the 
port-holes and opened their guns upon the eu:!my, wh > 
soon drew off to the vale below and began the destruction 
of the cattle and other property in reach. It was soon dis- 
covered that Col. Bledsoe was in a dying condition, and it 
was suggested to him to make a will, in order to secure his 
daughters (eight in number) the possession of his valuable 
estate. He had no son, and according to the laws of North 
Carolina the title to his property would have vested in his 
brother, leaving his children penniless, if he died without 
making a will. To write the will it was necessary to have 
a light, but on searching the fireplaces not a spark of fire 
could be found. At this Hugh Rogan proposed to go to 
the house of old Katy Shaver, several hundred yards off, 
and get some fire. This old woman, whose husband and 
family had been killed some time before, lived alone, and 
was regarded with superstitious fear by the Indians, who 
knew her history and were fully aware of her defenseless 
condition. During all of the time they remained in the 
vicinity they avoided her with scrupulous care, believing she 
was under the protection of the Great Spirit, who would 
avenge any injury done her. The proposition of this brave 
Irishman met with a universal protest from the little gar- 
rison, as a large body of Indians was known to be in the 
immediate vicinity, and for hitn to attempt to return with a 
blazing fagot in his hand would almost insure his destruc- 
tion. He merely remarked that " a dying man should 
have his last request gratified," and opening the door plunged 
into the horrors of the outer darkness, amid the prayers 
and tears of the garrison, who listened with breathless anx- 
iety for the shots that would announce the death of their 
bravest defender. He reached his destination in safety, 
and in a few moments returned with the fire blazing his 
way through the darkness. Not a shot was fired at him, as, 
providentially, the Indians were busily engaged elsewhere at 
that particular moment. The self sacrificing spirit of this 



brave Irishman has never been surpassed and rarely equaled. 
The act had in it all the elements of the " heroic" in a 
superlative degree. 

An attack was made in the vicinity of Sutherland May- 
field's Station which deserves to have a place in these pages. 
This station was on the west fork of Blill Creek, and about 
a mile above Brown's. A force of ten or twelve Indians 
made their appearance near this station, but made no direct 
attack, which would no doubt have been successful as the 
men were some distance off building a wolf-pen. May field,- 
his two sons, and Mr. Joslin were busily at work, leaving 
a soldier to guard their guns a little way off and keep a 
lookout. The latter inexcusably left his post, when the 
Indians dashed in between the whites and their guns, and 
opened at the same time a destructive fire upon them. 
Mayfield and one of his sons and the soldier were killed, 
and the other son, George, was captured and taken to the 
Creek Nation, where he remained ten or twelve years. Jos- 
lin, afterwards a colonel in the militia and owner of Jos- 
lin's Station, the farthest one to the southwest of Nashville, 
at the first alarm rushed towards the Indians to get his 
gun, but he was surrounded and beaten off; he then broke 
through their line and daslied off at great speed through the 
woods with the enemy in close pursuit. He soon reached 
the trunk of a very large tree which lay in his way and 
promised to be a formidable obstacle to his escape unless he 
could jump it, as the pursuers were right at his heels. He 
therefore put forth all of his strength and by a tremendous 
leap cleared it, falling on his back on the other side. At 
this the Indians stopped, thinking it useless to pursue far- 
ther a man of such extraordinary agility. He made a cir- 
cuit and reached the station in safety. 

A number of valuable citizens lost their lives during this 
year, and the usual devastation was committed on property, 
but of these our limits forbid particular notice. 

The accumulated outrages of the last year by the Creek 
Indians at length seem to have determined Gen. Robertson 
to put DO further faith in the pacific declarations of Mc- 
Gillivray, and we find that on April 5, 1789, he issued a 
general order to the militia ofiiccrs to be ready with their 
men at a moment's warning to march in pursuit of any 
bands of Indians coming into the country, and to overtake 
and punish them, as their outrages had grown too great 
and frequent to be longer endured. He had not long to 
wait for the opportunity to put this order into execution. 
While engaged with his hands in a field not a half-mile 
from his station, the sentinel posted to give notice of hostile 
approach became suspicious that the Indians were in the 
cane not far off. He communicated his fears to the general, 
and endeavored to put himself between the people at work 
and the threatened danger. Gen. Robertson then turned to 
take a searching look in the direction indicated, when a 
volley was fired from the woods, one of the balls taking 
effect in his foot. The whites then made their way in 
safety to the fort and the Indians ran off. 

Gen. Robertson ordered immediate pursuit. About sixty 
men turned out under Lieut.-Col. Elijah Robertson, but he 
being detained, Capt. Sampson Williams, an excellent In- 
dian-fighter and a man of most stubborn courage, was 
selected in his place. It is worthy of notice that Andrew 

Jackson was one of the pursuers. They hastily convened 
at Gen. Robertson's, and began their march early the next 
morning. The trail of the enemy was soon struck, and 
found to lead up West Harpeth to the highlands of Duck 
River. At this point the pursuers became convinced that 
the Indians were out-traveling them, and it was determined 
to detach twenty men to follow on foot for the sake of 
speed, leaving the horsemen to come on as best they could. 
Capt. Williams headed the detachment, and striking off at 
a trot followed the trail until it reached the river ; it here 
curved up the river a mile and a half and crossed, where it 
turned down again through the heavy corn which covered 
the lowlands. Darkness and the tangled nature of the 
way at length forced the party to halt and lie on their 
arms the rest of the night. As soon as it was light enough 
to see, pursuit was resumed, and at the distance of only 
two "or three hundred yards from their bivouac the encamp- 
ment of the Indians was discovered. Two or three were 
up mending their fires, and the rest still lay on the ground 
in sleep ; the place was calculated to escape observation, being 
in a kind of basin. Capt. Williams was in advance, and 
the first to discover the enemy. Having some distance to 
go under the range of the enemy's guns if they should make 
resistance, he determined to dash forward at full speed and 
drive them from their weapons before they could have time 
to use them. He therefore charged, and at the distance of 
fifty yards opened fire. The Indians, though about thirty 
in number, fled without resistance, leaving one dead on the 
ground, but carrying off seven or eight wounded, and plung- 
ing into the river crossed to the north side. Sixteen guns, 
nineteen shot-pouches, and all of their effects fell into the 
hands of the whites. Pursuit was continued across the 
river, but shortly abandoned. Capt. Williams then struck 
into his old trail, and soon met the party with the horses, 
when all returned to the settlements. 

There appears to have been no other pursuit of Indians 
by bodies from this county during the year, though it closed 
with a record of thirty persons killed on the Cumberland 
and the loss of one-half of the stock of horses. 

The year 1790 passed off with a remarkable diminution 
of the usual death-rate, as far as the accounts go to show. 
The treaty with the Creek Nation at New York, August 
17th, may have had some influence on the result. McGil- 
livray, with about thirty chiefs, had repaired there by 
arrangement with the government, and had been received 
with great hospitality and attention to pomp and ceremony; 
liberal presents were provided, and he himself received a 
douceur of one hundred thousand dollars, ostensibly as in- 
demnity for losses he had sustained in property from the 
people of the United States. 

This treaty proved unsatisfactory to both parties. It was 
now desired by the government to engage the Cherokees in 
similar obligations to preserve peace. William Blount, 
Governor of the Territory south of the Ohio, as the country 
was called which had been ceded by North Carolina to the 
general domain, therefore dispatched Maj. King on a mis- 
sion to this nation. Upon his return he reported that the 
Cherokees expressed great willingness to enter upon a 
treaty. The Governor having issued his proclamation re- 
voking all licenses to trade with the Indians, the possessors 



of this privilege, seeing loss to themselves in the prospect, set 
about at once to defeat the assembling of the Indians, and 
they circulated the report that it was the intention of the 
whites to surround them on arrival at the treaty-ground 
and utterly destroy them. These insinuations of perfidy 
seemed about to defeat the proposed treaty, when the Gov- 
ernor desired Gen. Robertson to go among the Indians and 
reassure their minds as to the intentions and good faith of 
the government. He went at once among them, and being 
possessed of their respect and esteem in the highest degree, 
soon accomplished his mission. The chiefs agreed to attend 
the place of meeting, the present site of Kiioxville. There, 
on the 2d of July, 1791, the treaty of Holston was made, 
and being forwarded to the President was confirmed by the 
Senate on the 11th of November. There seemed reason 
now to anticipate peace with the Cherokees, but there was 
evidence of a renewal of hostile spirit on the part of the 
Creeks, but it was confined more to the settlements in 
Western Virginia and Kentucky than those on the Cum- 
berland, where, however, a number of horses were stolen 
and thirteen persons were killed in the limits of Sumner 
and Davidson Counties in the months of June and July. 

By the treaty of Holston extensive hunting-groundc', 
reaching to the very limits of the Cumberland settlements, 
had been restored to the Cherokees with the hope of pur- 
chasing peace and security. Washington earnestly desired 
Governor Blount to inculcate a spirit of the utmost for- 
bearance among the whites towards the Indians, and seek 
by frequent " talks" and presents to hold them to their 
treaty obligations. This became an exceedingly diiEcult 
task, when it soon became evident that hostility was not 
only not abating but continually on the increase. This 
non-fulfiilment of their stipulations found its explanation in 
the machinations of Spanish and British agents among 
them, who were extremely jealous of the growing power 
of the United States, and alarmed at its already manifest 
influence on the destiny of the Mississippi region. The 
policy of Washington, which gathered weight and respect 
more from his great name than from any regard for its 
justice and propriety, together with the personal exertions 
of Gen. Robertson, had the efiect to limit the movements 
of the Cumberland people strictly to defensive measures. 
The year closed in gloomy forebodings. St. Clair had been 
defeated in the Northwest, with the loss of six hundred 
men slain and all of his cannon. This event, so flattering 
to Indian prowess, virtually destroyed with the Southern 
tribes any lingering respect they may have retained for the 
binding force of the late treaties. 

Although Davidson County was erected in 1783, and 
thus become an integral part of the State, it was regarded 
by the latter, in consequence of its remoteness from the seat 
of government and isolation from other settlements, i-ather 
as an outlying province, which must take upon itself those 
measures of protection and defense imposed by its situa- 
tion. Its inhabitants had incurred responsibilities in which 
the rest of the State could not well share, so its rulers 
argued ; the State would give them laws, but could not 
incur any expense in their execution. The grant of powers 
was liberal, the Inferior Court of Pleas and Quarter Ses- 
sions being virtually invested with legislative, judicial, and 

executive authority. These powers had already been exer- 
cised freely but wisely by the government of the Notables. 
Therefore this act was merely formal, and added no real 
strength to the colonists in their situation at that juncture, 
wlien the broad aagis of the State was needed to be thrown 
over them. 

Under the authority of the act of 1786, the Court of 
Quarter Sessions in 1787 adopted measures of defense, as 
appears of record in these words : 

" Whereas, The frequent acts of hostility committed by 
the Indians upon the inhabitants of this county for a con- 
siderable time past render it necessai-y that measures should 
be taken for their protection : 

1. "Be it Resolved, That two hundred and ten men 
shall be enlisted and formed into a military body for the 
protection of said inhabitants, to rendezvous at the lower 
end of Clinch Mountain. 

2. " Every able-bodied man who shall enlist and furnish 
himself with a good rifle or smooth-bore gun, one good 
picker, shot-bag, powder-horn, twelve good flints, with good 
powder and lead bullets or suitable shot, shall be entitled 
to receive each year for his services one blanket, one good 
woolen or fur hat of middle size, one pair of buckskin 
breeches, and waistcoat lined." 

They further " Resolved, That for the better furnishing 
of the troops now coming into the country under command 
of Maj. Evans, with provisions, etc., that one-fourth of the 
tax of this county be paid in corn, one half in beef, pork, 
bear-meat, and venison, one-eighth in salt, and one-eighth 
in money, to defray the expenses of removing the pro- 
visions. The prices were fixed thus: corn, four shillings 
per bushel (equal to fifty cents) ; beef, five dollars per hun- 
dred pounds ; pork, eight dollars per hundred pounds ; good 
bear-meat, without bones, eight dollars per hundred pounds ; 
venison, ten shillings per hundred pounds ; salt, sixteen dol- 
lars per bushel " 

Capt. Evans was appointed to the command of the bat- 
talion thus raised, with the rank of major. The troops ren- 
dezvoused at Clinch Mountain, and were very useful, guard- 
ing immigrants into the country and manning the forts. 
Each soldier was allowed by the State four hundred acres 
of land for six months' service, and the same proportion if 
he sewed twelve months, the land to be located west of the 
Cumberland Mountain. For the raising, supporting, arm- 
ing, and equipping of these troops it was expressly stipu- 
lated that the tax should come from the lands west of the 
Appalachian Mountains, and under no circumstances should 
the expense fall upon the treasury of the State, to be rate- 
ably borne by it. 

While this force was a great addition to the strength of 
the colonists, it was far from being adequate to the needs 
of the case. Every man able to bear arms was held in 
honor bound to turn out on instant notice and defend or 
pursue as the case might be. In the almost weekly alarms 
the volunteers were the main reliance. The State guards 
held the forts, while the inhabitants took the field in many 
cases. From the enumeration of these facts it will be readily 
seen that the burdens of the settlers were heavy enough. 

In April of this year the Indians killed Randle Gentry 
in the vicinity of Nashville (at the place where Mr. Foster 



afterwards lived), and Curtis Williams and Thomas Fletclier 
and liis son at the mouth of Harpeth. Capt. Rains was 
ordered by Col. Robertson to pursue. He immediately 
raised sixty men and got on the trail of the marauders, 
whith led across Mill Creek ; thence to Big Harpeth ; 
thence to the fishing-ford of Duck River ; thence down 
Swan Creek to Elk River ; and thence into the barrens, and 
on as far as Flint River, within the present limits of Alabama. 
Not being able to come up with the party he there left their 
trail and turned west until he struck McCutchiu's Trace. 
This trace crossed Elk River in the neighborhood of Lati- 
tude Hill, so named by the commissioners engaged in laying 
off the lands of the Continental line of North Carolina in 
1783, who had gone there to ascertain the thirty-fifth par- 
allel of latitude. The place is within the present limits of 
Giles County. Before reaching Elk River Capt. Rains 
discovered the tracks of a party of Indians who had come 
into the trace and were marching in the direction of the 
settlements. In the neighborliood of Latitude Hill he 
found the camp which they had left in the morning. He 
halted six miles farther on and lay all night, but took the 
precaution to send forward two or three trusty men to see 
that the enemy was not suflScientty near to overhear his 
men while engaged in preparing camp. These returned and 
reported no Indians within hearing. The next morning he 
followed on, and in the afternoon came to the place where 
they had encamped the preceding night. Here they had 
cleared the ground of brush and leaves and indulged in 
their national war-dance, to properly prepare themselves 
for the bloody deeds they had in contemplation, this being 
the last place in which they could safely perform this rite, 
as another day's march would bring them too close to the 
settlements and render them liable to discovery. The In- 
dian war-dance was a strange orgie, in which they indulged 
on going and returning from war, being intended to fire the 
warrior's heart to deeds of valor and whet his appetite for 
the blood of his enemy. It began with a slow, measured 
step, accompanied by a song, which gradually increased in 
quickness until the circling mass had been wrought to the 
highest pitch of excitement, when each brave drew his 
knife and tomahawk, and addressing an imaginary foe, he 
imitated the act of striking him down to the earth and 
completing the triumph by taking his scalp. At this 
stage savage cries and yells filled the air, and the counte- 
nances of the braves, rendered more horrible by paint, ex- 
pressed all the ferocity of a real feelmg, well calculated 
to excite in the beholder sensations of awe and fear. In 
the mad excitement of the moment they often inflicted 
accidental wounds upon each other, but of this no notice 
was taken and the ofiender was not held to account even if 
death was the result. This band took due precautions 
against surprise by setting up forks around the ring, upon 
which they laid poles to rest their guns against, so as to 
have them at hand in case of need^ 

Capt. Rains and his men passed on, and crossing Duck 
River at the mouth of Elk and Fountain Creeks, encamped 
about two miles beyond. The next morning, at the dis- 
tance of six miles, they came on the Indians as they lay 
encamped upon the waters of Rutherford Creek, about 
the place where Solomon Herring afterwards lived. The 

enemy fled at the first fire and dispersed, leaving one of 
their number dead on the ground. The animating influ- 
ence of their recent war-dance vanished in the presence 
of real danger. Capt. Rains made no further pursuit and 
marched into the settlements. 

About a month after the return of this expedition Capt. 
Rains was ordered by Col. Robertson on another equally 
arduous. He was directed to scour the country to the south, 
and strike any Indians found east of the line dividing the 
Chickasaws and Cherokees. His command was composed 
of sixty men. He took and kept the Chickasaw trail, 
which was the divisional line, until he crossed Swan Creek, 
beyond Duck River, when he turned southeast towards and 
up the Tennessee River. On the second day thereafter he 
struck a fresh trail, which on close examination was ascer- 
tained to be made by five men and a boy. He followed it 
but a few miles before he overtook the party, and killed four 
of the men and captured the boy. Seven horses, besides 
blankets, guns, skins, and other property, fell into his hands. 
The scalps of the slain were taken and brought to Nashville. 
The mother of the boy was a Chickasaw and his father a 
Creek. On learning of his capture Piamingo, the Chicka- 
saw chief, interested himself, for the sake of the mother, to 
obtain his release. His son, Butterboo, had recently stolen 
a white captive away from the Creeks. He was a boy by 
the name of Naine, and had been captured by them on 
White's Creek, in this county, some time belbre. Piamingo 
now proposed an exchange, which was readily assented to 
and the transfer eifecled. The Indian boy was well dressed 
in the style of white people when he left, and promised to 
come back and see Capt. Rains, which he did about a year 
after, but he was again clad after the Indian fashion, with 
flap and blanket. 



Effects of the Treuty — Freneh and Spanish Intrigue — Complicated 
Difficulties of the Seltlers — Attack upon Ephraim and Thomas 
Peyton and Others — Character of the Pioneers for Courage and 
Endurance — Tax-List of Davidson County in 1787. 

In 1785 the progress of settlements was much retarded 
by the limitations of a treaty made with the Indians. This 
treaty, known as the treaty of Hopewell, was concluded 
Nov. 28, 1785, by commissioners on the part of the United 
States and the chiefs and head men of the Cherokee Nation 
at Hopewell, on the Keowee River, in South Carolina. 
Benjamin Hawkins, Andrew Pickens, Joseph Martin, and 
Lachlin Mcintosh were the United States commissioners. 

This treaty was remarkable for its futile attempt to restrict 
and drive back the progress of Anglo-American settlements. 
A land-office had been established under an act of 17.83, ex- 
tensive entries had been made, and upon many of the lands 
settlements had been inaugurated ; yet such were the powers 
and prerogatives granted to the Indians that they had the 
right to dispossess those now declared by the treaty to be 
within the bounds of the Indian Territory, and to punish all 
intruders as they might think proper. This was simply deliv- 



criug the settlers over to the tender mercies of savages. By 
tliis same treaty tlio Lidians were clotlied with judicial and 
executive powers of a most startling character. They could 
arrest persons whom they might deem guilty of capital 
offenses, and punish them in the presence of the Cherokees 
in the same manner as they would be punished for like 
oiFenses committed against citizens of the United States. 
More than this, one article of tlie treaty gave the Cherokees 
the right to be represented by one of their own savage 
delegates in the Congress of the United States. By this 
treaty the territory of tlie Cumberland settlers was re- 
stricted to the narrow limits east of the dividing ridge be- 
tween the Cumberland and Tennessee Rivers, and south of 
the Kentucky boundary to about forty miles above Nash- 
ville. The distinguislied chief, Tassel, presented a map to 
the commissioners on which those boundaries were marked, 
and they were recognized and adopted by the treaty. 

At this time the French and the Spaniards were devising 
the ruin of the Western settlements, and it is thought that 
the plan of this restriction of territory was furnished by 
the Spanish Governor. We quote two paragraphs from 
the report of the Commissioners to Congress : 

" Tlie Spaniards and the French are making groat efforts 
to engross the trade of the Indians. Several of them are 
on the north side of the Tennessee River, and well sup- 
plied with goods proper for the trade. The Governor of 
New Orleans has sent orders to the Chiekasaws to remove 
all traders from that country, except such as should take the 
oath of allegiance to the Catholic king. 

" The Cherokees say that the Northern Indians have 
their emi.ssaries among the Southern tribes, endeavoring to 
prevail with them to form an alliance offensive against the 
United States, and to commence hostilities against us in 
the spring, or next fall at the furthest; that not only the 
British emissaries are for this measure, but that the Span- 
iards have extensive claims to the southward, and have been 
endeavoring to poison the minds of the Indians against us, 
and to win their affections by large supplies of arms, mili- 
tary stores, and clothing." 

Against this combination of enemies the settlers in Cum- 
berland had to contend. The treaty had been designed to 
conciliate the Cherokees and to preserve them as a friendly, 
or at least a neutral power between the settlers and the 
Creeks, who soon began a war of extermination upon the 
Georgia colony. The ink had hardly become dry upon the 
treaty wlien depredations within the limits conceded to the 
settlers was begun by the Cherokees them.selves. They 
j killed Peter Barnet below Clarksville, on the waters of 
Blooming Grove ; killed David Steele and wounded William 
Crutcher in the same region. The story of Crutcher is 
quite romantic. The Indians had left him badly wounded, 
as they supposed mortally, with an old hunting-knife stick- 
ing in his body; but he revived, reached one of the stations, 
and lived to a good old age. Crutcher kept the knife many 
years, and probably the Indian did the same with his, which 
he took in exchange. Capt. Prince said to Crutcher one 
day, " I suppose, William, the Indians went upon the prin- 
ciple that a fair exchange is no robbery." " I am glad," 
said Crutcher, " he used his old, dull knife instead of my 
long, sharp one. I would not object to the exchange if 

he would let me stick my knife in him." "Crutcher liad 
received two gunshot wounds also, one in the side, the other 
in his thigh, from which he fell, and the Indians rushed 
upon him." Neither he nor Steele were scalped. For 
many years Crutcher was on the lookout for his " long, sharp 
knife," and for the Indian who left the old, dull one in his 
body, but he never discovered either. 

These events happened in 1786. They were followed by 
an attack upon John Peyton, a surveyor, Ephraim and 
Thomas Peyton, his brothers, Thomas Pugh, John Frazier,:'' 
and Esquire Grant, by a large band of Cherokees, in Feb- 
ruary of the same year. We condense the account from 
several histories of this period. The party of white men 
having killed much game, encamped for the night at a place 
since called " Defeated Creek," near the line between Smith 
and Jackson Counties. The Indians were sixty in number, 
under Hanging-Maw, a Cherokee chief The party of hun- 
ters or surveyors were fatigued, and were lying upon the 
ground around their camp-fire, their horses being fastened 
near by. It was Sunday night ; they had given some part 
of the evening to playing cards ; their dogs and horses gave 
some intimations of danger, but the tired hunters con- 
eluded that wild animals — wolves — were attracted by the 
meat of the camp, and that there could be no other enemy 
near. Therefore they " chunked up their fire," and laid them- 
selves down again, John Peyton " leaning on his elbow near 
the fire hissing on the dogs." Suddenly the Indians fired 
a volley upon them, wounding four of the six men in camp. 
As John Peyton sprang to his feet he had the forethought 
to throw his blanket over the fire, thus to give him and his 
party a better chance of escape in the intense darkness. 
The whole party fled, escaping through the Indian lines. 
They oast their blankets from them and each fled his own 
way through the woods, bareheaded and without shoes. 
They were seventy miles from Bledsoe's Station, the ground 
was covered with snow, and yet each of these men, after 
several days' wandering, arrived at the station and recovered 
from their wounds and exposure. 

John Peyton was shot through the arm and shoulder, 
Thomas Peyton through the thigh, Frazier through the 
leg, and Grant through the knee. Ephraim Peyton and 
Pugh escaped without a wound, but Peyton, in jumping 
down the bank to cross the creek, sprained his ankle very 
badly, and lay for some time in agony. Crawling along on 
the ground, he found a stick which answered the place of 
a staff" to support and aid him in hobbling along. He was 
thus several days suffering and laboring to reach the white 
settlement, and was the last of the party to come in. All 
the others arrived, one at a time, each reporting the rest 
killed. John Peyton sent a message the next year to the 
chief that he might retain the horses, blankets, saddles, guns, 
etc., if he would return the compass and chain, to which 
he received reply : " You, John Peyton, ran away like a 
coward and left all your property ; and as for your Jand- 
stca/er" (the compass), " I have broken that against a tree." 

We our sketch of the pioneers with the following 
eulogy from the pen of one who knew and understood 
their character, and rightly estimated the value of their 

" Their remote, inland position exempted them from 



much of the malign influence of the emissaries of England 
and France, but their exposure to Spanish and Indian 
jealousy and hatred combined was greater than that endured 
by any other portion of the country. Had the three hun- 
dred pioneers who came to the Cumberland in the winter 
and spring of 17S0 crossed the Atlantic and selected their 
liomes in the deuseness of a forest among wild beasts and 
hostile savages, two to four hundred miles from other snndl 
settlements of civilized men, there to endure hardship, there 
to lay the foundations of a great State, the voyage, the 
enterprise, its men, measures, and results would interest 
the historian, the orator, and the poet. It was a great 
■work which these emigrants undertook, — tliey endured more 
than the dangers of the sea; they suffered a thousandfold 
more than they anticipated, — and great and penetrating as 
may have been their gaze into the fafure, and extensive and 
glorious as may have been the hopes of improvement and 
power to result from what they did, they could not have 
conceived of one ten-thousandth part of what even some of 
their children now see and enjoy." 

Names of persons who were in Davidson County in 1787, 
being the first year in which the tax on land and polls was 
taken, being (white) males over twenty-one years three 
hundred and seventy- two, and blacks one hundred and five 
between twelve and sixty years old y^ 

Armstrong, William... 

Audeiaon, Ilunrj' 

Allurd, liarcly 

Armstrong, Kraneis.... 

IJradsliaw, II 

]Jo>Ies,, 11 

Uoyers, 11 

Berry, William.: 

Uaker, Nicholas 

llaker, llcubcn 

Uakor, A 

IJorin, B 

Uorin, John 

Lorin, \\'illiam 

Loyd, James 

Uell, Ilugb 


Uaker, Joshua 

Boyd, Julin 

Busier, James 

Bell, John 

Brown, Thomas 

Butcher, G 

Barrow, John., , 

Brown, \Villiam 

Blair, Thomas 

Buchanan, Samuel 

Byrnes, .]auies 

Buchanan, .John 

BoWiin, Thomas 

Bradford, Henry 

Buchanan, Archibald- 
Burnett, llobcrl 

Blackauiore, John 

Blackamorc, William.. 
Blackamore, Thomas.. 
Blackamore, George... 

Boyd, Andrew , 

Bodey, William 

Boyd, John , 

Cart Wright, J 

Crow, I) 

Coourod, N 

Cooper, James 

Crane, John 

Crawlord, George 

Carr, Robert 

Contcs, C 

Cain, Jesse 

Comstoek, Thomas 

Crutcher, Thomas 

Crutcher, William 

Gastlemau, Jacob 

Casselman, Andrew 

Clai k, Lardner 

Casselm;in, John 

Cassclman, Benjamin 

Cox, Thonia-'^ 

Coekrill, John 

Cox, John 

Cox, Phenix 

Carnahan, A 

Connor, William 

Canyer, AViJliam 

Cartwright, Robert 

Cochran, John 

Craighead, Thomas B 

Donaldson, Jacob.. 

Duncan, M 

Duncan, John 

Dclaney, James 

Dodge, Richard 

Duncan, William 

Duncan, Samuel and John ... 

Donaldson, James 

Duncan, D 

Drake, Benjamin 

D rak C;, Job n 

Drake, Benjamin, Jr 

Donaldson, William 

Donaldson, John 

Dcnnings, Robert 

Exhearf, D 

E wing, Andrew 

Ewing, Alexander 

Euman, E 

Evan, Jesse 

Edmonston, William, John, 
Robert, and Robert (2dj. 

Evanf^, John 

Es|iv, James 

Elliot, Falkner 


E razor, John 

Flancy, Dauicl 

Eord, Isaac, Lewis, John 

Frceland, Samuel 

Foster, James 

Frazer, Daniel 

French, Thomas 

Gilliland, Hugh 

Guise, Charles and John 

(libson, John 

Gramer, John 

Grant, Squire 

Gallaspy, William 

- The figures indicate the taxable number in each family. 

Gentry, John 1 

Geter, Arijolag 1 

Glares, Michael , 1 

Guify, Alexander and Henry.. 2 

Ilogan, Daniel 1 

llarrod, Barnard. 

'l^Iardin, M 

Hooper, William. 
Hooper, Absalom, 

, David, 1.. 





ITall, James 1 

Handley, S 1 

Huston, Ben 1 

Hardin, B 1 

Hogan, II r" 

Henrv. Hugh and Isaac 2 

Hay,'Davia 3 

Hodge, F 1 

Harmand, Anthony 1 

Hampton, A 3 

Howard, John 1 

Hollis, James, John, .Joshua, 

Samuel 4 

Heaton, Robert and Amosi 5 

Hinds, William, Hamilton, 

James, and Thomas 3 

Harrold, Robert 1 

Hays, Robert -i 

Hope, John 1 

Hannah, Jos 2 

llornberger, Phil 1 

Harris, James 1 

lior, M 1 

Jones, James and John 2 

■James, Daniel and Edward... 2 

James, Tbiima? 7 

Joslin, Ben 1 

Johns, Richard 1 

Johnston, Williaui 1 

Kirkpatrick, John 3 

Kennedy, Robert 1 

Love, Joseph 1 

Loggans, William 1 

Lewis, Thomas and Hugh 2 

Lcnicr, James and Henry 4 

Lucas, Andrew 1 

Lyles, Hugh 1 

Long, William 1 

Lancaster, Jno,, 2 and Wm., I. 3 

Lynn, Adam 1 

Lindsay, James 1 

Lupcr, John 1 

Martin, Joseph 1 

Marshall, William 1 

iMcAllirtcr, James 1 

Mears, AVilliam 1 

McNight, AViUiam 1 

McFarland. John 1 

Motheral, John 1 

Mitchell. William 2 

I\laylield, Isaac 1 

jMaishall, John I 

McGowan, vSamuel 1 

McDowell. John 1 

McNight. Hubert 1 

Moore, William 1 

Marlin, Archibald 1 

McCarty, Jacob I 

McAntosh, Bon 1 

Miller, Isaac 1 

McAntosh, Thos. and Chas.... 2 

jMurdoch, John I 

Martin, Samuel 2 

McCain, Thomas 1 

McFarland, Thomas 1 

Maclin, William 7 

McGough. John 1 

Molloy, Thomas 3 

Miniss, Bvn I 

Moore, Alexander 1 

McWhisler, William 1 

Marlin, Archibald 1 

McCutchen, Patrick, Samuel, 

and James -. 3 


Murry, Thomas 

jMcLanc, Ephraim 

McLane, Ephraim {2d).. 


McFadden, Jas., 

McSea, John 

Nobles, Mark 

Neal, Thomas.... 
Nash, William..., 

Kusam, Jonas 2 

Meely, Isaac 2 

Kcvilles, George 4 

Owens, Charles and Arthur 2 

Oglesby, John 1 

O'NcaYl, Jonathan 2 

__0\'erali, Nathaniel and Wm... 2 

Prince, Francis 

Phillips, John..-..,., 

Pennington, Jacob -I 

Pirtle, George 1 

Payne, Matthew, George, and 

Josiah 3 

Peterson. Isaac 1 

Pollock, William B.. ,1 

Pennington, Isaac 3 

Prochman, Phil 1 

Ruland, Lewis I 

Ray, Stephen 1 

llounscvall, David. Isaac, and 

Josiah .' 3 

Robertson, Alex 2 

Robertson, M. and Mark 2 

Ralston, David 1 

Ramsey, AVilliani 1 

Reckner, Coonrod 1 

Roberts, Isaac I 

Reed, Alexander I 

Robertson, Elijah 6 

Robertson, Richard 1 

Robertson, James S 

Ramscj', Josiah 2 

Ross, James I 

Stuart, William 1 

Shaw, Joseph, William, and 

James 3 

Shannon, Samuel, William, 

and David 3 

Shoat, Isaac 1 

Standley, David, Joseph, and 

John 3 

Smothers, A 1 

Sj.iles, W... 1 

Singleton, St. John I 

Smith, Jesse and Ezekiel 2 

Stump, Frederick 4 

Stnui]), Frederick, Jr 1 

Shannon, John 1 

Steel, Andrew 1 

Sutton, M 1 

Stull, Zacbariah 1 

Scott, James 1 

Swanson, Edward t 

Sides, P 2 

Shelby, Evan 4 

Thom[)son, Azariah 4 

Thompson, Thomas, Laurence, 

and Anilrew 3 

Taylor, Thomas 1 

Thomas, John, William, Isaac, 

John 4 

Tillsfortb, Isaac 3 

Thompson, Charles, James, 

Robert 3 

Taitt, William I 

Titus, Ebenezer 1 

Todd, James 1 

Tennin, H. and James , 2 

Walker, Samuel, John, Phil... 3 

Walker, John 2 

Wells, H 1 

Winter.^, C. and M 2 Samuel 1 

Willis, James 1 

Williamson, James 3 

Williams, Dan and Daniel 2 

Williams, Sampson 1 

Williams, William - 2 

Woolard, Isaac 1 

White, Solomon 1 

AVilcocks, Samuel 6 

Dates when following persons first appear as tax-payers: 

Hard i man 17SS 

Hickman I7SS 

Hardins 17SS 

Charles Gordon 17S9 

Robert Weakley 17S9 

Andrew and John McNairy 17U4 

John Nichols 

Bennet Searev 

William Polk". ]79o> 

William Pillow 1795 

Jas. an-l David McGavock.. 17S9 >,.Gideon Pillow 1797 

John Overton 1794 \ 





French Trnders at Tudian Towns on the Tennessee — Nieknjack, Run- 
uing Water, and Coldwater, settled by the Indians — Their Design 
to Destroy the White Settlers on the Cumberland — Expedition to 
Coldwater — Suecessful Capture and Destruction of t'lc Indians — 
Noble' Character of Piamiiigo — Incidents of the Return of the Sol- 
diers — History of the Water Expedition — Successful Shooting- 
Parties-^Contest with Rig-Foot. 

In con.sequeneo of a treaty held with the Southern In- 
dians at Nashville in June, 1783, by commissioners on part 
of Virginia, and that of Hopewell, Nov. 28, 1785, there 
was a marked abatement of hostility on the part of the 
Cherokees. The treaty of Nashville stood on the same 
footing with that of Col. Henderson in 1774, known as 
the Transylvania treaty ; that is, the general government 
did not recognize the authority of a State to make a treaty 
with an Indian tribe, as it claimed a paternal and protecting 
relation to these people. The first President took upon 
himself the title that the kings of England had borne 
in their dealings with them, — that of the " Great Father." 
While many of the provisions of the treaty of Nashville were 
confirmed at Hopewell, yet large concessions had been made 
to the Cherokees, and recession of boundaries which had 
been confirmed to North Carolina in the most solemn man- 
ner and for which they had received a stipulated price.. Col. 
Robertson was much opposed to the selection of Nashville as 
the treaty -ground, and a majority of the stationers on the 
south side of the Cumberland joined with him ; but the 
question being submitted to a vote of all the stations, it was 
carried in the aiBrmative by the decisive vote of Eaton's, 
which was fifty-four for and one against the proposition. The 
objection to having the treaty held here was that it would 
admit a large body of Indians to the midst of the settle- 
ment and disclose the weakness of the whites. Eaton's, 
being protected in a measure by the river, felt more se- 
curity, and consequently was not so solicitous. However, 
everything passed off very well, the treaty having been held 
four miles northwest of Nashville, at the place afterwards 
selected by Gen. Robertson as his residence, and well 
known to a later generation as the Nashville Camp-Ground. 
There is no account of the tribes represented. The Chero- 
kees and Chickasaws were present, but probably no Creeks, 
or at least an insignificant representation. Those present 
expressed themselves as well pleased, particularly with Col. 
Robertson, who was a person calculated to strike the Indian 
fancy of a great man and leader in an eminent degree. The 
gathering undoubtedly had a good effect, as it was followed 
by some abatement of the outrages that had marked the 
previous years. Still, murders did occur occasionally and 
horses were stolen, but the settlers breathed freer, and by 
the year 1785 stations had extended as far up the Cumber- 
land on the north side as Bledsoe's Lick, now Castilian 
Springs. Yet a sense of security was never felt, and con- 
stant vigilance and the practice of measures dictated by 
experience doubtless saved many lives. 

Gradually, however, matters became worse. There was 
an impUcatwn in the treaty of Hopewell that the Cumber- 
land settlers were intniders, — a squinting towards disown- 

raont on the part of the government of an interest in their 
welfare and success. This want of firmness had a bad influ- 
ence on the evilly-disposed Indians, and cost both parties to 
the conflict dearly in the end. The chastisements inflicted 
upon the Chickamauga towns by Sevier had driven a number 
of these people to take shelter farther down the river in 
places of greater security. Thus the towns at Nickajack 
and Running Water were formed. Later on a small party 
of Cherokees established themselves at Coldwater, where 
Tuscumbia, Ala., now stands. Here they were discovered 
by the Creeks, who came to their assistance and added 
much to their strength. At this time the French traders 
on the Wabash resorted to the waters of the Tennessee, 
and while a Blonsieur Veiz managed the trade he seems 
to have acted prudently and without any disposition to stir 
up hostilities with the whites; but on the establishment 
of the band of lawless Creeks and Cherokees at Coldwater 
a half-dozen or more French traders resorted to the place, 
and being anxious to increase their trade, oflFered various 
inducements to them to encourage them to acts of war. They 
kept large supplies of ammunition, guns, tomahawks, and 
knives, which they could dispose of readily at exorbitant 
prices to the surrounding Indians, who for the most part 
were indifferently armed. The existence of this town was 
unknown to the settlers for several years, though they had 
often wondered why predatory bands for the most part re- 
treated ip a westerly direction ; and they were disposed for 
this rettson to suspect the fidelity of the Chickasaws. At 
length two 3'oung Chickasaw warriors while on a hunt 
came unexpectedly on this village. They remained all 
night, and were treated in a friendly manner. The vil- 
lagers informed those young men that their object in set- 
tling there was to strike the Cumberland settlers with 
greater facility, as the situation seemed to afi'ord a safer 
retreat with a wide river intervening. 

On the return of the Chickasaws to their nation they 
infiirmed Piamingo, or the mountain leader, the head chief 
and firm ally of the whites, of their discovery, and he sent 
them immediately to Nashville to acquaint Col. Robertson 
with the fact, at the same time expressing the opinion that 
policy required that this band should be broken up at once. 
Their arrival was most opportune, for a short time before, 
in May, Mark Robertson, a brother of the colonel, had been 
killed after a desperate defense near the latter's residence, 
while about the same time a number of persons had been 
butchered at the stations in Sumner County on the north 
side of the i-iver, among them old man Price, his wife, and 
children, at Hendrick's Station ; Capt. Charles Morgan, old 
man Gibson, Maj. William Hall and two sons, James and 
Richard, and young Hickerson, near Bledsoe's : and old man 
Morgan, at Morgan's Station, besides others. The weight 
of grievauce was now too hard to bear, and when it bceanic 
knowi), through the friendly ofiBces of the Chickasaws, who 
were the authors and where they could be found with 
certainty, the settlers clamored with one voice for vengeance, 
and renounced any further obligations to observe treaty 
stipulations which forbade expeditions into the Indian 
country unless duly authorized by the government. They 
thereupon determined to carry the war into the enemy's 
country, and for this purpose one hundred and thirty men 



from the different stations collected in the neighborhood of 
Nashville early in June, armed and equipped with supplies 
of powder and bullets and wallets of dried meat and parched 
corn. Col. Robertson took command, assisted by Lieut. - 
Cols. Robert Hays and James Ford. Among the number 
was Capt. John Rains' company of spies or scouts, a body 
■which for efficiency in border warfare was never surpassed. 
The Chickasaws offered their services as guides, which were 
gladly accepted. In fact, their services could not have been 
■well dispensed with. None of the whites had penetrated 
in that direction farther than fifty or sixty miles, and a 
knowledge of the country beyond the Tennessee was essen- 
tial to make the blow effective. A raw-hide boat was pre- 
pared beforehand to carry over the arms when they readied 
the river, but on the representations of the guides it was 
expected that Indian boats could be obtained, as some were 
usually kept tied to the farther bank. To provide, how- 
ever, against any mishap from this source a detachment 
was organized to go by water, consisting of three large 
canoes under the command of David Hay and iMoses Shelby. 
This was to descend the Cumberland to the Ohio, and thence 
up the Tennessee to a crossing since known as Colbert's 
Ferry, where, if necessary, the land force could repair in 
case of necessity and effect a safe passage. The boats also 
Carried some extra supplies, and were considered useful for 
the comfortable conveyance of any persons who might be- 
come disabled by wounds or sickness. All things being in 
readiness the land force marched into Nashville from its 
rendezvous four miles to the northwest, afterwards known 
as the residence of Gen. Robertson, and also as the "Nash- 
ville Camp-Ground." The object was to afford friends who 
had collected from the surrounding stations an opportunity 
to bid the adventurous band good-by. It was a most dan- 
gerous mission, but all felt the importance of its successful 
execution. Indeed, there was a general rejoicing that an 
opportunity had occurred for retaliatory measures, and that 
Col. Robertson, the commandant, had taken the responsi- 
bility of ordering the movement. 

It was calculated that the expedition by water, though 
following a long and circuitous route, could reach its desti- 
nation by the time the land force would be able to penetrate to 
the same point through the cane brakes and thickets which 
would bar its progress continually, and both therefore started 
the same day. The route of the army is thus described by 
Haywood : " They crossed the mouth of South Harpeth ; 
thence they went a direct course to the mouth of Turn- 
bull's Creek ; thence up the same to the head, and thence 
to Lick Creek of Duck River ; thence down the creek seven 
or eight miles, leaving the creek to the right hand ; thence 
to an old lick as large as a corn-field ; thence to Duck River 
where the old Chickasaw crossed it ; thence, leaving the 
trace to the right hand, they went to the head of Swan 
Creek, on the south side of Duck River ; thence to a creek 
running into the Tennessee River, which the troops called 
Blue Water, and which ran into the Tennessee about a 
mile and a half above the lower end of the Muscle Shoals; 
they left this creek on the left baud." The route was very 
devious, and rendered difficult by the avoidance, at the sug- 
gestion of the Chickasaw guides, of the trails upon which 
their advance might be detected by straggling parties of the 

enemy. It seems, however, that these precautions failed of 
their purpose, for one of the prisoners captured at Cold- 
water, a French trader, informed Col. Robertson that the 
Indians had been councilling for three days at the instiga- 
tion of a principal Creek chief, and had unanimously agreed 
to fight the whites if they crossed the river. In fact Col. 
Robertson, in his official report of the expedition, made to 
Governor Caswell, distinctly states that while in the vicinity 
of Muscle Shoals some Indians discovered him and fired 
upon his back picket, which alarmed a small town of Cher- 
okees. This town was on the opposite side of the river at 
the crossing. This clearly indicates that they had informa- 
tion of their purpose. It is cjuite probable that they even 
knew of the expedition by water, for this was met at the 
mouth of Duck River and fired upon, without doubt by a 
party from this village evidently there in observation. 

AVlien the army reached within ten miles of the river 
the roaring of the rapids induced them to believe that it 
was near at hand, and a halt was made. One of the guides 
with two or three active men were ordered forward to 
reconnoitre, but they returned about midnight with the 
information that the river was yet too distant for them to 
reach in time to return that night. In the morning the 
march was resumed, and at twelve o'clock the troops 
struck the river at the lower end of the Muscle Shoals. 
Here they concealed themselves to await the approach of 
night.' Several spies were dispatched to take post in the cave 
at the water's edge and make ob.scrvations. Some cabins 
were seen on the opposite bank, but from the absence of crow- 
ing of cocks and barking of dogs it was justly concluded that 
they were not inhabited at that time. During the afternoon 
two Indians were observed cautiously approaching the river- 
bank on the other side, and from their movements it was evi- 
dent that they were on the lookout for the whites. Not dis- 
covering anything indicating a hostile presence, they waded 
to an island near their side, and unloosing a canoe paddled 
out into the river, as if with the intention of crossing, 
but on reaching the middle of the stream they aban- 
doned the boat to the current, while they plunged in and 
disported themselves for some time in the water. They 
then recovered the canoe, and paddling back to their own 
side disappeared up the bank. From this it was plain that 
their suspicions had not been excited. On report of these 
facts to Col. Robertson he determined to cross the river 
that night by some means, and he therefore dispatched 
a messenger to Capt. Rains, who had been sent up the 
river, to return. That officer had been ordered in the 
morning to take the broad buffalo trail up the river to look 
for canoes, and if possible to capture an Indian alive. On 
his return he reported no indication of an Indian settlement 
in that quarter. At dusk the entire force was congregated 
at the river-bank, with instructions to observe the utmost 
quietude. Col. Robertson now called for volunteers to 
swim the river, which was spread out fully a mile at this 
point, and bring back the canoe. Joshua Thomas offered 
his services if any one would go with him. At that in- 
stant a plunge was heard in the water, and the colonel 
asked "Who is that?" " Edmond Jennings," was the 
reply of a by-stander. lie and Thomas were inseparable 
on the hunt or scout, and when the latter proposed to swim 



tlie river he plunged in without further ceremonj'. Thomas 
followed, and they soon disappeared in the darkness. Jen- 
nings, who, by the way, was one of the most remarkable 
characters of that day, in telling the circumstances years 
afterwards, said that he got bothered in the darkness and 
swam a long time without making much headway ; but, 
said he, " I finerly tuck a stair to course by, and landed on 
the other side." Thomas also made the passage safely. 

After making an exploration of the cabins, which were 
indeed deserted, they entered the canoe to return ; it was 
very old and leaky, and one had to bail the water out con- 
stantly to keep it from sinking. In fact, they made so 
much noise on their return that some of their comrades on 
shore insisted on firing upon them for Indians. Putnam 
and Haywood speak of seven persons being engaged in 
swimming the river for the canoe, but Capt. Rogan, who 
liad the story from the actors and from Jennings himself, 
mentions only the names given. In order to stop the leaks 
some of the men took ofi' articles of clothing, which they 
stuffed in the cracks and endeavored to hold in place with 
their feet. Forty persons got in or clung to the sides of 
the boat, and it was started, but after proceeding a short 
distance the water rushed in so rapidly that a number of 
them had to deposit their guns and ammunition and leap 
overboard in order to lighten the craft enough to got it back 
to land. The woods were searched and some pieces of bark 
secured, with which the cracks were at length stopped. This 
occasioned so much delay that it was daylight before the 
first load got over. These were posted to advantage, and 
the boat started on its return, but the successful landing of 
the first detachment now aroused such a spirit of emulation 
that the remainder, having daylight to guide them, now 
plunged in on their horses, or swimming alongside, and 
passed over without accident. The arms and ammunition 
were pushed over in the raw-hide boat brought from Nash- 
ville for the purpose. Col. Robertson's invading army now 
presented a singular spectacle. When they landed tlie men 
stripped off their wet garments and, hanging them out to 
dry in the sun, wandered about on the beach en disliahUle. 
A shower having come on, the troops resorted to the cabins, 
where they dressed and made preparations to mount as soon 
as the rain was over. From the cabins a plain path led 
through the open woods in a westerly direction. This the 
army took and followed at a brisk pace for five or sis miles, 
when they came to some corn-fields about two miles from 
the village, as the guides informed tlicm. There they 
made a slight change of course to strike directly for the 
town, which was on the opposite side of a creek formed by 
the water from a large limestone spring, and called by the 
Indians Coldwater. On reaching the slope loading down 
to the creek, about three hundred yards, speed was increased 
to a gallop in order to give the enemy no time to prepare 
for resistance. On account of the narrowness of the path 
at the crossing, which would admit only one horseman at 
the farther bank, the onset was hindered somewhat, which 
prevented the troops from arriving in the village in a body 
and doing more execution at this point. As it was, no halt 
was made by those in front for their comrades to come up, 
and the village was entered in this order. The enemy, 
having got notice by the thunder of the horses' feet, made 

no offer of resistance, and fled mostly to their canoes, which 
were moored at the mouth of the creek. The Chiokasaws 
had suggested to Col. Robertson tliat the enemy would in 
all probability endeavor to escape to their canoes, and he 
had detached Capt. Rains, Benjamin Castlenian, William 
Loggins, William Steele, Blorton Duncan, and one of the 
guides to a point on the creek opposite their canoes to in- 
tercept their retreat in this direction. Blany of the fugi- 
tives, in their effort to escape from the main body, crossed 
the creek to where Capt. Rains' men were posted on the' 
bank, and while looking back were fired upon at the dis- 
tance of a hvi paces. Three of them dropped dead, and 
the rest continued their flight to the canoes, which were 
now being rapidly filled and pushed out into the river. 

At this juncture the main body of whites appeared at 
the bank and opened a destructive fire upon the crowded 
boats. Edmond Jennings, who was mounted on a wild 
young mare which ran away with him, was the first to 
reach the place. He leaped to the ground and gettin"- a 
raking shot at a boat with John Buchanan's fowling-piece, 
a famous gun in that day, killed three warriors, when the 
rest plunged into the water and attempted to save them- 
selves by swimming and diving. The pursuit was so hard 
and close from the village, the men having been informed 
beforehand of the probable direction the enemy would take, 
that few of the latter escaped in this quarter, nearly all 
being killed in the water. The number was not ascertained 
at the time, but the Creeks confessed to the Chickasaws 
afterwards that they had lost twenty-six warriors. Three 
of the French traders and a white woman in their company 
were also killed. Among the slain was the principal Creek 
chief and also a Cherokee chief Their force consisted of 
ten Creek and thirty-five Cherokee warriors and nine 
Frenchmen, chiefly from Detroit. The principal trader 
and owner of the goods was wounded and taken prisoner, 
along with five other traders. A large stock of goods was 
captured, consisting of taffia, sugar, coffee, cloths, blankets, 
Indian wares of all kinds, salt, shot, paints, knives, powder, 
tomahawks, tobacco, and other articles of traffic. But one 
or two Indian women were taken, and it was surmised from 
this that the families had been sent off in anticipation of 
the whites crossing. Putnam suggests that men of this 
character would not have fiimilies, or at least not keep them 
in a place like this. The fact that they cultivated the 
ground goes to prove that there were women among them, 
for on these fall work of this kind, being scorned by a 
brave as beneath the dignity of his occupation, which was 
to hunt and go to war. 

After the dispersion of the enemy all of the personal 
property in the cabins was tlirown out for the use of the 
women and children in case they were lurking in the cane 
near by. The huts were then consumed by fire. All of 
the fowls and some hogs in a pen were killed. The boats, 
three excellent ones, were collected in the creek opposite 
the village, where they were loaded with the captured 
goods and placed under guard during the night. The 
troops encamped near the ruins, but on the opposite side 
of the creek. The next morning arrangements were com- 
pleted for the return of the troops. It having been 
decided to send the property and prisoners by water to 



Nashville, Jonathan Denton, Benjamin Drake, and John 
and Moses Eskridge were put in charge of the necessary 
crews. The Eskridges had a small canoe tied on to their 
own. The prisoners consisted of five Frenchmen, a squaw, 
the wife of one of the traders, and a child. The white 
men and the woman killed were buried. A new route, at 
the suggestion of the Chiekasaws, was selected for the 
return home. The boats were ordered to drop slowly down 
the river to a certain crossing indicated by the Chiekasaws, 
and await the arrival of tlie troops for the purpose of 
ferrying them over. The march home from that point 
was ascertained to be more direct and easy of accomplish- 
ment. The route pursued down the river was very cir- 
cuitous and led the army much farther off from the boats 
than was intended, and prevented them reaching their 
destination that day. They then turned a course towards 
the river, and on reaching it discovered some persons on 
an island, who on being reconnoitred proved to be the 
boatmen. They all proceeded over the river to a point 
where the approaches on either side were easy and con- 
Tenient, the place being now known as Colbert's Ferry. 
The two Chiekasaws, who had rendered such invaluable 
services to the expedition, here left for their homes. Each 
of them was presented with a horse, bridle, and saddle, a 
rifle, and as many goods as he could pack, at which they 
were greatly delighted. The Chiekasaws after their treaty 
proved the firm friends and allies of the whites, and they 
boasted with pride that their nation had never shed the 
blood of an American. Their chief, Piamiugo, was a man 
of great intelligence and dignity of character, and managed 
the aflairs of his people with much shrewdness and ability. 
On a visit to the seat of government he was received with 
great respect by President Washington, who entertained a 
high opinion of his character and abilities. 

The troops succeeded in crossing the river without much 
difiiculty, on account of the accessibility of the bunks at 
this point. Here it was deemed advisable to get rid of the 
incumbrance of the prisoners. They were accordingly given 
the light canoe, into which their trunks and clothing were 
packed, with a plentiful supply of provisions, and ordered 
to return up the river. They were greatly elated at such 
an easy deliverance, and set out at once. The stock of 
sugar and coffee that remained was equally divided among 
the troops, and the dry goods and other captured articles 
securely packed in the boats, with directions to be landed 
and stored at Eaton's for sale and division. The land force 
of the expedition now started on its return home, taking a 
due north course until it reached the path leading into the 
Chickasaw old crossing of Duck River. It had been ab- 
sent nineteen days and had not lost a man killed or wounded. 

As the boats were on their return they met five French 
traders ascending the river. When the latter came in sight 
they fired off their guns as a feu, de joie, thinking they 
were meeting friends. The Cumberlanders made ready 
their guns, and laying alongside of the traders' boats took 
them prisoners before they could recover from their aston- 
ishment. Their boats being loaded with articles contraband 
of war, the owners were required to return as prisoners. 
On reaching a point a few miles below Nashville they were 
offered their choice of proceeding on to a trial for the re- 

covery of their goods or being set at liberty without them. 
They chose the latter course, and being furnished with a 
light canoe they departed down the river. France and the 
United States being on terms of amity. Col. Robertson 
thought it necessary to make an explanation to the repre- 
sentative of the former power, then in command of a post 
in the Illinois country. He accordingly wrote to that func- 
tionary a letter, in. which he defined very clearly the prin- 
ciples of international law governing such cases. He recited 
the grievances which his people had suffered from the sav- 
ages, who were instigated to acts of war and supplied with 
munitions by the traders who had resided at Coldwater 
for several years past, of which he had ample proof, and 
upon which he rested his vindication of the treatment they 
had received at his hands in the late expedition. They 
had imprudently put themselves in the battle at that place, 
and some of thom fell. As to the capture of the traders as- 
cending the river, he declared that they had supplies for the 
purpose of trading with the very Indians with whom the 
settlers were then at war, and the seizure of their persons 
and goods, though without his express order, was clearly 
justifiable; that he was endeavoring to collect the goods, 
and if the owners could prove that they were not guilty of 
a breach of the laws, and did not intend to furnish the In- 
dians with powder, lead, and other goods for the destruction 
of the Cumberland settlers, they could recover the same on 
application at Nashville. He closed by declaring that 
any traders who furnished these Indians with arms and 
ammunition at a time when they were in a state of hostility 
with his people would render themselves very insecure. 
Here the matter dropped, and never, as (ar as the writer is 
aware, formed the subject of a diplomatic correspondence 
between the two governments. 

It remains now to notice the history of tlie expedition 
that left Nashville by water to co-operate with the land 
force. It had the same bright prospects, and promised the 
voyagers a modicum only of the hardships in prospect for 
the other, but this did not save it from an unfortunate and 
tragical issue. The boats descended the Cumberland with 
great rapidity, although the waters were low, but on enter- 
ing the Tennessee the weather was so calm that the sails, 
upon which they had based some expectation of increased 
speed, proved of no use. They proceeded, however, with 
oars and poles, and had reached the mouth of Duck River, 
when their attention was drawn to a canoe tied to the bank 
a short distance up that stream. Captain Shelby, who com- 
manded one of the boats, deemed it advisable to investigate 
the matter before proceeding farther. He thereupon turned 
into that stream, and had reached to within a few yards of 
the canoe when a dreadful volley was poured into the crew 
from a body of Indians concealed in the thick cane that 
lined the bank. Josiah Ren froe was shot through the head, 
Hugh Rogau (misprinted Roqueriiig by Haywood and not 
corrected by subsequent historians) and John Topp through 
the body, and Edward Hogan through the arm, fracturing 
the bone ; five others were also slightly wounded by the same 
fire. The surprise and consternation of the crew were so 
great that it was with much difficulty that the boat could 
be got back into the main channel, but this was at length 
accomplished before the enemy could reload and fire again. 


The several boats now collected in the middle of the 
liver and counseled as to their future movements. Their 
presence being now discovered, they would be placed at 
great disadvantage ascending against the current, as the 
enemy could easily outstrip them and fire upon them from 
chosen positions, against which they had no protection. 
They decided therefore to return to Nashville. As to the 
manner of their return there is some confusion in the ac- 
counts of writers. All of these except Carr state that they 
returned by the route they came. Carr, who is very trust- 
worthy on matters of pioneer history, on account of his 
connection with most of the events of which he treats, 
says that Capt. Shelby abandoned his boat, and that the 
crew marched through the wildernesa to Nashville. This 
is undoubtedly the fiict, for the writer has conversed with 
the family of Mr. Eogan, who was one of Shelby's crew 
and who was shot through the lungs, and they confirm the 
statement. The crews of the other boats may have pro- 
ceeded by water, but it is quite probable that they all acted 
in conjunction in a case like this, where it would be im- 
politic to have any division of strength, especially when 
Shelby's crew needed and required assistance to make sure 
of its march home through tlio d.ingcrs of the wilderness. 
The journey by water was, if anything, more diflicult, and 
ihe open boats afforded very little protection against attack, 
as had just been demonstrated. The backwoodsman wanted 
the shelter of a tree when he fought, and freedom of move- 
ment, which he could not obtain in the confined space of a 

Of the wounded, Renfroe died before he left the boat. 
It was a singular circumstance in his ease that though he 
was shot through the brain he still retained the use of some 
of his faculties. The crew had been spearing fish with 
sharpened canes, and as they proceeded on water for some 
time after the repulse, Renfroe sat upright in the bow of 
the bout and speared at real or imaginary fish until ho died ; 
but it is quite probable the act was a phase of " unconscious 
cerebration," in which he repeated the train of ideas that 
was dominant in his mind up to within a fevf moments of 
the reception of his injury. Rogan was an Irishman of 
superlative courage and strength of will, and though he 
was shot through one lung he not only marched home 
without assistance but carried his gun and accoutrements. 
But the men of that day possessed in an eminent degree 
the hardihood and tenacity of life which distinguish the 
lower animals in their eflbrts at self-preservation. Such 
men as Edmond Jennings and Josh Thomas could swim 
icy rivers in mid-winter without injury or much bodily 

It should have been stated in proper chronological order 
that Col. Robertson had in the spring of this year, in eon- 
sequence of the depredations committed about that time, 
marched a body of men " near the Chickamaugas," ac- 
cording to his oiEcial report of the Coldwater expedition 
previously mentioned. He imputed these murders to the 
Indians at that place, not having learned at that time of the 
existence of the Coldwater town. After his arrival he 
thought it best to avoid an open war, and returned without 
doing them any mischief, leaving them a letter containing 
every offer of peace that could be made on honorable terms. 

After his return they sent a flag to treat, but he put no 
confidence in their sincerity, as several persons were killed 
during their stay, and one man at his house in their sight. 
They imputed the murders to the Creeks, but were not 
believed at the time, as they gave no hint of the existence 
of the Coldwater town. 

In the month of September of this year, 1787, Capt. 
Rains' company of spies was again ordered out to scour the 
country to the south, being joined at Nashville by Capt. 
Shannon's company of sixty men, the whole under com- 
mand of Capt. Rains. They crossed Duck River at Greene's 
Lick, and passing the Pond Spring, crossed the Tombigbec 
Crjek near its head. In proceeding towards the Elk tlieir 
attention was attracted to a large number of buzzards flying 
around, when Capt. Rains suggested that there must be 
Indians about, these birds being collected to prey on the 
remains of the deer and other game killed by them. They 
encamped near by, and on search his surmise was found 
to be correct. The next morning Capt. Shannon was in 
front, but passed over a trail without noticing it. It was, 
however, detected by Capt. Rains, who proposed to follow 
it. Objection was made that it was too old, but ho insisted 
on following it until he found a freslier one. Before night 
the spies came upon an encampment, and discovering an 
Indian fired upon him without effect. He ran off, and the 
entire party of the whites dashed forward at the report. 
Capt. Rains discovered the Indian running rapidly up a hill, 
and being well mounted, he soon got close on him and ordered 
him to halt. The Indian turned a moment as if to comply 
with the demand, and then set off again. Capt. Rains 
then jumped from his horse and fired, wounding him 
severely in the arm and hands. At this moment Reuben 
Parks and Beverly Ridley came up and joined in the chase. 
They soon overtook the Indian and knocked him down, 
but he made a desperate struggle, which ended in Ridley's 
killing him with his knife. John Rains, Jr., and Robert 
Evans in dashing forward came fiice to face with an Indian 
coming out of a thicket, and on his making signals for 
quarter they took him prisoner. It seems that these two 
men were the only occupants of the camp at the time, or at the only ones discovered. Eight horses were taken, 
and about three hundred deer and other skins, the produce 
of their hunt. The horses were sold at Nashville, and the 
proceeds of the sale and the other property equally divided 
among the captors. The Indian taken was a youth about 
nineteen years old. He became very much attached to 
Capt. Shannon's family, into which he was taken for safe- 
keeping. He was afterwards sent on to Washington (wliere 
a young white girl fell desperately in love witli him), and 
at the end of two years was brought back to Capt. Shannon. 
lie was finally released on exchange, but returned again to 
the whites, saying that the " Indians looked so dirty and 
lousy he couldn't stay witii them." After remaining 
some time he joined the Creeks, and was wounded at the 
battle of Talladega, in 1813, fighting against the whites. 

A number of expeditions of this character were sent out 
during this year, which liad an excellent effect towards 
restraining the extent of savage depredation ; still there 
were thirty-three victims to the rifle and tomahawk in the 
course of the year. Among the mounted rangers of Evans' 



battalion were the companies of Capts. "William Martin and 
Samuel Hadley, which also did excellent service, the records 
of which, however, are very meagre. 

About the last of July, after the return of the Coldwater 
expedition a Monsieur Perrautt, a French trader, happeped 
in Nashville on his way to the Indian nation. By him 
Col. Robertson dispatched a letter to the head men and 
chiefs of the Creeks, reciting the grievances which led to 
his late march into their country and the destruction of 
their warriors at Coldwater, and stating that the movement 
was purely for retaliation, but that he was now willing to 
be on terms of peace with them. On his way thither Per- 
rautt met a band of two hundred Creeks, who had crossed 
the Tennessee and were marching on the settlements. He 
expounded to them, as he claimed on his return, the nature 
of the letter he bore, and strongly endeavored to dissuade 
them from their purpose. This they positively refused to 
do. They said that " they wanted horses and there is the 
place to get them. If we cannot get the horses without 
killing some of the people, we shall risk the worst to obtain 
the horses. We will not do much harm this time, but if 
the whites again venture into Indian country with an army 
then they may expect a merciless war. We know their 
strength, their positions, and how and whore best to worry 
and waste them." They claimed that their motive was to 
obtain satisfaction for three Creeks killed by the North 
Carolina people eighteen miles below Chotu. Such was the 
purport of Perrautt's language on his return, and Col. Rob- 
ertson, on this report, hastened measures of defense at once. 
He pushed the work of collecting supplies for Evans' bat- 
talion, and used his authority to call into scouting service 
some of the immigrants who had lately arrived under the 
protection of tliat battalion. By this accession of strength 
he was now enabled to keep out strong scouting-parties in 
various directions, which rendered most efficient service by 
giving timely notice in many cases of the approach of Indi- 
ans, and pursuing promptly when any mischief was done. 
These scouts were kept up after that as long as any neces- 
sity existed. Col. Robertson had from the first employed 
men in this kind of service, but now he was enabled to 
send out larger bodies to greater distances. Their instruc- 
tions were to examine all of the buffalo-trails and crossing- 
places of the streams, and to search for the camps of 
the enemy. The country at that time being abundantly 
stocked with game, the Cherokees resorted here to hunt, 
and brought their women with them to do the drudgery of 
camp. After the hunt was over the women, boys, and 
old men were dispatched homeward with the products of the 
chase, while the warriors approached the settlements to 
steal horses and get scalps. But the activity and bravery 
of the scouts at length made the formation of these station- 
ary camps hazardous within the distance of fifty miles of the 
whites, and they were withdrawn to points of greater secu- 
rity in the neighborhood of the mountains. At that time 
the ground was covered with leaves that had been collecting 
for years, amounting in places to more than a foot in depth. 
They were so thick that small streams were covered over 
with them, and springs concealed that now afford an abund- 
ant supply of water throughout the year. It is quite prob- 
able that the Indians fired the grass only in the barrens 

south of Duck and Elk Rivers, and these streams acted as 
barriers to protect the leaves and cane-thickets from de- 
struction. The whites were also unwilling to fire the woods 
on account of the great destruction of cane-thickets that 
would have ensued, as these afforded the main subsistence to 
their animals. In consequence of this uniform coating of 
the surface, the tracks of men and horses could be followed 
almost as readily and with as much certainty as if in snow. 
The Indians therefore resorted to the hard-beaten tracks of 
the buffaloes when practicable, and frequently retreated for 
escape along the beds of the creeks. 

The duties of these scouts were very arduous and hourly 
attended with peril to their lives. They were particularly 
obnoxious to the Indians, who mangled their bodies in a 
most shocking manner when they fell into their hands. 
They always plucked but their eyes and cut off their ears, 
in order to heap as much indignity as po.ssible on the organs 
which served their owners so well in their peculiar vocation. 
It is a matter of deep regret that so little has been pre- 
served of the exploits of such men as Capts. Rains, Gor- 
don, Shannon, Murray, and Williams. The story of their 
scouting adventures would make a volume of stirring and 
thrilling incident. As it is, we have but little besides their 
names and the contemporary record of duties well done on 
all occasions during the long years of Indian hostility 
which hung over the Cumberland settlers. But with a 
knowledge of the difficulties and dangers which beset their 
paths at every step, the imagination will have but little 
difficulty in constructing the materials of their character. 

Yet all of the vigilance of these active and trusty 
scouts could not save their people from the devastations of 
a savage and revengeful foe. The destruction of the Cold- 
water village and the killing of so many of its warriors 
brought only a temporary respite from acts of hostility. 
Representing as they did a wide circle of relations and 
friends in two of the most powerful nations in the South, 
■such an injury could only be atoned with blood. The war- 
whoop soon rang along the beautiful valley of the Cum- 
berland, and the tomahawk, rifle, and torch were again at 
their deadly and destructive work. Although the spirit of 
vengeance rose to the highest pitch of demoniacal fury, its 
full gratification was checked by a prudential regard for the 
temper and resources of the whites at this time. The 
numbers of the settlers had been much augmented this 
year by the advent of the soldiers raised for the defense of 
the border, and the service they rendered in guarding emi- 
grants safely through the In consequence of 
this, a large force of invaders, acting in one body, could be 
struck by the whites with much more certainty on account 
of its greater difficulty of concealment, while the same force 
broken into small bodies could lurk close to the stations 
with litile of discovery, and escape with more facility 
after striking a blow. This must have been the governing 
consideration, for we find no record of an attack in force 
on any point in the county until several years later. But 
a number of small bands invaded the settlements continu- 
ally, 'and committed such havoc as they could, and retreated 
well loaded with booty. 

One of these bands was led by As-la-sc-na-la, or Big 
Foot, a chief of gross personal appearance and most de- 



tcrniined bravery. They had made a successful raid in 
which thoy had taken some scalps and secured various 
articles of property, when on reaching the Tennessee on their 
return thoy felt so secure from interruption that they halted 
to cook and make some preparation for getting their effects 
across the river. The halt proved fatal. Capt. Shannon, 
with a few followers as brave and determined as himself, 
William Pillow, Luke Anderson, and one of the dare-devil 
Castlemans among them, had struck Big Foot's trail, and 
had been following it from the vicinity of Nashville with 
the persistence of bloodhounds. At the time of Shannon's 
arrival several of the Indians were in camp eating, and the 
rest down at the river-bank. The whites charged imme- 
diately and dispersed those in camp, Castleman and Pillow 
each killing an adversary. Big Foot, who was at the river, 
in hearing the firing, judged correctly from the number of 
shots that the attacking party was small, and he thereupon 
collected his warriors and hastened in the most determined 
manner to recover his loss. The combatants were about 
equally divided, and the victory for some time hung in the 
balance. At length Big Foot, in the ardor of revenge, 
pressed forward among the whites and engaged in a hand- 
to-hand struggle with Luke Anderson for the possession of 
the latter's gun. Being of superior strength he was on 
the point of wresting it away, when William Pillow sprang 
to the rescue and sank his tomahawk deeply into the In- 
dian's brain. At the fall of their leader his followers 
withdrew from the conflict with loud yells of disappointed 
rage, leaving five of their number dead on the field. 



Outrages on the Cumberland — St.itions Abandoned — Gen. Robertson 
restricted by the Government .at Washington — rnsutficiency of 
Troops — Treachery of the Chiefs — Cherokecs Incited to War by a 
Lying Creek Chief — Assembling of the Militia — Attack on Buchan- 
an's Station — A'ictory of the Stationers — Desultory Attacks by the 
Indians in 1793 — Abe Castleman's Expedition. 

But a little more than a half-month of the new year had 
pa.sscd when throe sons of Col. Valentine Sevier, a brother 
of the general, had been butchered in an open boat while 
ascending the Cumberland from Clarksville. Following 
this the murders came so thick and fast that all outlying 
stations and settlements south of the river were abandoned 
except Robertson's, Raines', and Buchanan's. At John- 
son's Station four children, brothers and sisters, were killed 
and wounded while at the spring, and three of these scalped 
and piled in a heap, the other making his escape with a 
broken arm. At Brown's four others were killed and treated 
similarly. On the 24th of May Gen. Robertson and his 
son Jonathan were severely wounded, and only escaped 
death by a well-directed shot from the latter, which wounded- 
two of the Indians. Col. Kilpatrick, while heading a small 
party in pursuit of some of the murderers, was fired upon 
from an ambuscade near Denham's Station and killed and 
beheaded. Zigler's Station, in Sumner County, containing 

thirty persons, was taken, only three or four escaping death 
or captivity. These and other outrages so wrought upon 
Capt. John Edmeston that he raised a company to avenge 
the repeated injuries, no matter to what lengths he would 
have to go in the execution of his purpose. Gen. Robert- 
son, though his heart bled with a sense of the enormous 
injuries of his people, felt constrained, by his oath as an 
officer to carry out the instructions of the government, to 
forbid the proposed expedition, and it was reluctantly 

The troops then on regular duty numbered only one hun- 
dred and ninety men, infantry and cavalry, under Maj. 
Sharp and Capt. Lusk,and were distributed in nine stations 
or over a distance of seventy miles. As the term of their 
enlistment was out in October the Governor ordered Gen. 
Robertson to enlist others in their places, but " to avoid a 
heavy expense." In the spring of this year he (Gen. R.) had 
visited the Indian nation, and had been received at Coyatee 
with much barbaric pomp by two thousand warriors drawn 
up in martial array. The chiefs Watts, Hanging Maw, and 
the Breath of Nickajack had renewed, with much seeming 
manifestation of sincerity, professions of friendship, and a 
desire to comply with the stipulations of the late treaties. 
He was so much elated with his reception, and so favorably 
impressed with what he saw and heard, that after his re- 
turn in May he thought proper in a letter to rebuke 
the Cumberland settlers for their despondency and disposi- 
tion to put out reports of danger that alarmed immigrants. 
He bade them to be of good cheer, — that all would now be 
well with them. It may be proper to state that Governor 
Blount was not insensible to the sufferings of his people, 
or careless of their interests ; he merely allowed himself to 
be duped into a belief that the chiefs were true to their 
professions, and that in the course of time they would be 
able to bring their roving bands under proper restraint. 

On the 10th of August, Governor Blount and Gen. 
Pickens met a full deputation of Chickasaw and a small 
representation of Choctaw chiefs at Nashville, and made a 
large distribution of presents. At this treaty a Creek chief 
named Coteatay was present, and on his return home through 
the lower Cherokee towns made a lying report of a " talk" 
which Gen. Robertson had made him, which was to tliis 
effect : " There has been a great deal of blood spilt in our 
settlements, and I will come and sweep it out clean with 
your blood. And now take notice that the first mischief 
that is done I will come." His advice to the Cherokees 
was that they had better prepare for war and strike the first 
blow. All of this was reported to the Governor with much 
naivete by Watts, the Glass, and the Bloody Fellow, accom- 
panied with new declarations of amity, saying that they 
had ordered home all parties that were out and likely to 
do mischief, and that there would be no occasion for Gen. 
Robertson to put his threat in execution. At that very time 
the scalp and eagle-tail dances were being held at the lower 
towns, and men being embodied for an attack on the Cum- 
berland settlements in heavy force. However, the news of 
these warlike preparations reached the Governor througli a 
friendly Indian two days before the peace-talks of the chiefs 
sent from Lookout, and he at once dispatched orders to 
Gen. Robertson to call into service a part of the brigade of 



the Mero District, by which term the three counties on tlie 
Cumberland were officially designated. Two days later, on 
the 14th, the talk of the chiefs came to hand, and so thor- 
oughly deceived him that he discredited the first report and 
revoked the order for the assembling of the militia, saying, 
" I congratulate you and the people of the Mero District 
upon the happy change of affairs. I had dreadful appre- 
hensions for you." On the 16th he received positive infor- 
mation that the Cherokees had crossed the river and were 
on the march for the Cumberland, and he then issued orders 
not only for the assembling of the brigade of Gen. Robert- 
son, but that of Gen. Sevier, urging them to delay not an 
hour, that the danger was imminent. 

In the mean time tidings of the meditated invasion had 
reached the settlements from another source. Early in Sep- 
tember, Findleston, a half-breed Cherokee, and Duval, a 
French trader, came direct from the nation under pretense 
of spying for the Indians and then returning, and stated in 
the most positive manner that over six hundred Cherokees 
and Creeks had crossed the Tennessee, and would attack 
Nashville on the full of the moon. Findleston offered to 
go to jail as a surety for the truth of his assertion. The 
news quickly spread to all of the stations and roused the 
inhabitants to a sense of the impending danger. So when 
the order came assembling the militia they turned out at 
once, ready and equipped for the conflict, and assembled 
at Rains' big spring, two miles south of Nashville. Their 
numbers are variously stated at from three to seven hun- 

Alexander Castleman, one of the trustiest and most daring 
spies among the settlers, was now out to get precise informa- 
tion of the hostile approach. He went as far as the Black 
Fox camp, where Murfreesboro' now stands, and finding it 
deserted by the friendly Indians who had been hunting 
there, his suspicions were aroused, and on proceeding beyond 
he discovered the fresh trail uf a large body of Indians 
coming in the direction of Nashville. He returned at once 
and reported the facts, but the enemy not appearing as soon 
as was expected, Capt. John Rains and Abraham Kennedy 
were sent out. They were gone some days, and on their 
return Capt. Rains said he had seen no " Indian sign, but 
plenty of bear sign." To this he made oath, but Kennedy 
refused to be sworn. On this report, which was made on 
Friday before the attack on Buchanan's Station, the militia, 
who had become impatient to return home, not thinking 
their services would be needed, were disbanded. However, 
on Sunday morning, some of the inhabitants, who were not 
thoroughly satisfied as to the absence of danger, took the 
further precaution to send out two other spies, — Gee and 
Clayton. They never returned, and at midnight of the 
same day Buchanan's was attacked. 

They proceeded on the bufi'alo-path until they reached 
a point on the ridge dividing the waters of Duck River 
and Mill Creek, where a hurricane had blown down the 
timber. Here the path divided, and a disagreement arising 
between them as to which they should take they separated, 
each following his own path. They had not proceeded far 
before they concluded that it would be safer to come 
together again, and began to holloa to each other for this 
purpose. It happened that they were in the vicinity of a 

large body of Indians, then on their way to attack the 
stations, and were overheard by the advance-guard, among j 
whom was George Fields, a half-breed Cherokee, who un- 
derstood and could speak English. Fields decoyed the two 
spies into the woods by calling to them to '• meet half-way." 
This they started to do, when one of them was killed and 
the other fled and was likely to make his escape when he 
was hailed by Fields and informed that the killing was 
done by the accidental discharge of a gun and that they 
were friends. He thereupon halted and was quickly killed 
and scalped. That night at ten o'clock Buchanan's Station 
was attacked by eight or nine hundred Cherokees and 
Creeks, led by John Watts and Chiatohattalla, son of Torn 
Tumbridge, a deserter from the British army, and an Indian 
woman. When the Indians came in hearing of the sound of 
the lowing of the cattle at the fort a dispute arose between 
Watts and Chiatohattalla as to whether Nashville or Bu- 
chanan's should be first attacked. Watts concluded that 
Nashville was the chief object of attack, and " that little 
fort could be taken on their return," pointing to Buchanan's. 
The other chief then called Watts a woman, and said he 
could take the fort himself; that he had burnt one fort, 
referring to Zigler's Station, in Sumner County, and that 
he could burn another. Watts thereupon retorted that he 
might go ahead and take it ; that he would look on. At the 
time of the attack there were only about twenty men in 
the fort, which was known as Maj. John Buchanan's Sta- 
tion. The assault was made about eleven o'clock at night, 
Sept. 30, 1792. Morris Shane, who was on guard at the 
block-house nearest the creek, was the first to discover and 
fire upon a body of Indians congregated at the fort gate. 
Thomas Kennedy then fired into the same group from the 
opposite house. At the first alarm a runner was dispatched 
to Nashville for assistance, and Anthony Fisher of that 
place was the first to enter the fort, closely followed by John 
Rains, just as the enemy were retiring but still in sight. 
The Indians on being fired into retired into an open cellar 
a short distance ofl", and to such other shelter as they could 
get around the ibrt, whence they opened a warm fire on the 
port-holes, yelling at the same time like fiends incarnate. 
The whites were quickly at their posts, and returned the 
fire in the most spirited manner. Mrs. Buchanan and Mrs. 
Shane leaped out of their beds at the first alarm, and 
taking no time to dress began to mould bullets, which they 
carried around to the men, and also a supply of brandy, 
adding words of cheer as they passed along. Jimmy 
O'Connor, an Irishman, took charge of a blunderbuss, and 
in the noise and confusion he charged his piece several 
times before it went off. When it did fire Jimmy was 
landed under a bed on the opposite side of the room badly 
bruised, but he declared he " made a lane through the yel- 
low dogs." In the midst of the assault Chiatohattalla 
made a most daring attempt to fire the fort. He was 
quickly shot down and mortally wounded, but, with the 
ruling passion strong in death, he continued to blow the 
fire as long as life lasted. The assault lasted about an hour 
and a half, when the Indians began to withdraw. Only 
one man in the fort was wounded, and he by a splinter. 
Tiiousands of balls had penetrated the logs, but compara- 
tively few had penetrated to the interior. During the 



firing there was a constant parley going on between the 
parties, Thomas Kennedy calling out to the Indians that 
they were a " set of damned squaws," and " to put more 
powder into their guns." Chiatehattalla was the only In- 
dian found dead. He was greatly dreaded bj' the whites 
on account of his use of fire to destroy a fort, and was 
known by them as the " Shawnee warrior." This appellation 
was a mistake, caused by the report tliat an old Shawnee 
chief had come from the North among the Southern tribes 
to introduce this practice, which had been put in sucoessful 
operation in the destruction of Zigler's Station some time 
before. Many others of the a.ssailants were supposed to 
have been killed and wounded from the traces of blood left 
on their departure. John Watts, the head chief, received 
a desperate wound in the hip, and was carried down behind 
the spring-house. Supposing himself mortally wounded, 
he begged George Fields, who was wounded in the heel, 
to cut off his head and carry it away to keep the 
whites from getting his scalp. His comrades, however, 
made a litter of blankets and carried him oiF. He recov- 
ered and lived many years afterwards, removing with his 
tribe west of the Mississippi. The whites ventured out 
the morning after the attack in pursuit, but were fired upon 
from a cedar-glade after going a short distance, when they 
returned. The Indians, however, becoming disheartened 
by the failure of their attack and the death of their bravest 
warrior and desperate wounding of Watts, retreated rapidly. 
The little swivel at Nashville had been firing signal-guns, 
and this seemed to add to their alarm. They left on the 
ground a number of guns, swords, tomahawks, blankets, 
and other articles of value. The defeat and failure of such 
a large force was another illustration of the want of har- 
mony and discipline which characterized such attacks. 

For the period of two months after this repulse not a 
hostile Indian appeared in the settlements. It augured 
well for peace, but as a company of cavalry was along a 
trail one day south of Nashville about eight miles, a volley 
was poured into them accompanied by the old familiar yell. 
The whites retreated in disorder, with the loss of John 
Hawkins, who halted to point an empty gun at the pur- 
suers by way of intimidation. He was killed,. scalped, and 
cut to pieces. The cavalry got some addition to their 
numbers and returned to the place of conflict without 
meeting the enemy. Several other persons were killed in 
December, among them John Haggard, a spy, whose wife 
had been killed the previous summer. 

The aggregate of deaths this year was sixty ; many were 

wounded and captured. The loss of live-stock and other 

property was severe. 


On the 5th of January Governor Blount wrote to Gen. 
Robertson to discharge Sharpe's brigade, but that he might 
organize a company of infantry and eighteen horsemen in 
its place. The Governor was led to this by the seeming con- 
trite confession of Watts, which the fears of himself and peo- 
ple had induced him to make in most humble terms. On 
the reception of this the Governor, in order to confirm and 
strengthen such good resolutions, distributed a number of 
presents among them and appointed a conference at the 
Southwest Point, the outpost in East Tennessee, for April 

the 17th. But in the months of January and February so 
many murders had boon committed, in connection with in- 
formation he had obtained of an invasion about the full of 
the moon in April, on the 25th, that on the 28tli of March 
he ordered Gen. Robertson to increase his force to eighty 
men, and scour the woods for fifty miles from the settle- 
ments, but not to go beyond those limits unless in a case of 
imminent danger, when he might go to the Tennessee 
River. On April 14th he notified the general that "large 
bodies of Creeks had crossed the Tennessee for war and 
plunder." Maj. Beard's troop was ordered to the assistance 
of Gen. RoberLson. He scoured the woods back and forth, 
and returned to Knoxville early in June. Oapts. Rains 
and Johnston were also out on the same service, but were 
enabled to kill only a fiiw Indians. Still they rendered 
much service in breaking up the station-camps of the enemy 
in proximity to the settlements, and forcing them back to 
the shelter of the mountain-caves. Notwithstanding this, 
small bands came in and committed great havoc to life and 

In July Joseph Castleman was killed and John Castle- 
man badly wounded in a field near Hays' Station, situated 
ton miles from Nashville, on Stoner's Creek. The Castle- 
mans, on account of their contempt of danger, had suffered 
severely. They were among the earliest hunters and set- 
tlers, and had rendered signal service in shielding and guard- 
ing the infant settlements. At this new affliction he raised 
a company of volunteers to go as far as the Tennessee River 
with him on a hunt for Indians, and applied to General 
Robertson for permission to carry out the design. General 
Robertson sympathized with his sufferings and desire for 
revenge, and granted him the permission to seek satisfac- 
tion in his own way. His party consisted of sixteen men, 
some of whom agreed to go only as far as the Tennessee 
River. By the time he arrived at this boundary, although 
he had killed several Indians, his revenge was far from 
being satisfied, and he proposed to cross the river and carry 
the war into the enemy's country. Five of his party agreed 
to go with him, to wit: Frederick StuU, Zaoh Maclin, 
Jack Camp, Eli Hammond, and Zeke Caruthers, the rest 
returning to the settlements. Here they stripped them- 
selves of their clothing, donned flaps, and painted their 
bodies in imitation of Indians to more eff"eotually carry out 
their Thus equipped they swam the river a short 
distance below Nickajack, and struck into a trail which they 
thought led to Wills' Town. They had not proceeded far 
before they came in view of a party of Creek warriors, 
numbering about fifty, seated on the ground in couples and 
engaged in eating. They were painted and unaccompanied 
by squaws, showing that they were on the war-path. Cas- 
tleman's men were so well disguised that the Indians ex- 
hibited no concern at their approach, and continued their 
eating. On arriving within a convenient distance the whites 
made ready on a signal from their leader, and bringing down 
their guns fired into the groups, each man selecting an in- 
dividual target. Castleman, whose gun was doubly charged, 
killed two, and the others one each. The fire was so sud- 
den and destructive that the Indians were thrown into great 



disorder and confusion, in the midst of which the daring 
little band made their retreat in safety across the river, 
where they resumed their proper clothing, and thence re- 
turned to the settlements after an absence of three weeks, 
well satisfied with their adventure. It was ascertained af- 
terwards that a chief of the Creeks was killed in this aifair, 
which added greatly to their exasperation. During the 
month of August and following a number of savage butch- 
cries of women and children took place in the Men District. 
About the 1st of December James Robertson, a son of 
the general, was killed, making the tliird who had fallen a 
victim to the deadly hate of the enemy. 



Victims at tlio Opening of the Year — Pursuit of the Indians by Capt. 
Murray — Eleven Warriors Killed — Mrs. Gear Killed and Scalped 
on her way to Church — Other Victims — Eventful History of Col. 
Joseph Brown — E.\pedition of Col. Roberts — Capt. Gordon's Suc- 
cess — Frequent Murders — Massacres in a Boat on the Cumberland 
— Forces Raised in Tennessee and Kentucky — Col. Brown's Narra- 
tive — Destruction of the Indian Towns and Death of Seventy 
Warriors — E.xpedition against the Creeks. 

The new year opened with a continuation of the hostil- 
ities that had marked the closing months of the old. On 
the 3d of January Bliss Deliverance Gray, while passing 
between two stations, was fired upon and .slightly wounded, 
and only escaped captivity or death by a remarkable exhi- 
bition of swiftness of foot, in which she distanced her pur- 
suers. On the 7th John Helen, or Healing, was shot 
while at work for Gen. Robertson, not a half-mile from his 
house. He ran about one hundred yards, when he was 
brought to bay, and after a desperate defense killed and 
scalped. Gen. Robertson ordered Capt. Murray to take 
twenty men and pursue. On striking their trail, which 
led southwest towards the Tennessee, Capt. Mun ay discov- 
ered that they had several horses and were accompanied 
by squaws. His pursuit was so cautious that after several 
days the Indians seem to have entertained no suspicion of 
pursuit being made. It is quite probable, from the circum- 
stance of their being accompanied by their squaws, that this 
band had just concluded its fall hunt, and the object of their 
raid was to procure horses before returning home. On 
reaching the Tennessee they stopped to encamp on the 
slope of a ridge which jutted out into the water. Here 
they gathered some cane for their horses and built a large 
fire, evidently to attract the attention of their friends on 
the other side of the river. They also fired signal-guns, 
and imitated the howling of the wolf and the hooting of 
the great owl for the same purpose. Their whole deportment 
was indicative of a sense of security and satisfaction at the 
supposed safe ending of the venture. The point of the ridge 
was bare of cane and brush, and very favorably situated for 
the hemming-in which the pursuers had determined on on 
discovering their situation. Capt. Murray and Jonathan 
Robertson undertook the examination of the ground, and 
were enabled to approach quite closely, on account of the 

noise made by the horses while feeding. The examination 
being satisfactory they returned to their comrades and ar- 
ranged for an attack at daylight, as promising the best 
prospect of complete success. The plan was to form a 
semicircle reaching to the water's edge above and below. 
By daylight all the positions were gained without giving 
alarm and the encampment completely hemmed in. A de- 
tachment then crept forward, and as soon as several of 
the enemy were seen to stir these poured in a volley and 
rushed forward with drawn tomahawks and knives to finish 
the work of death. Only one of the warriors was -killed 
outright. The rest leaped to their feet and rushed towards 
the river, when, finding themselves intercepted by Capt. 
Murray, some of them jumped into the water, where they 
were shot. Moclin sliot one before he got into the water. 
William Pillow, hearing a gun fire at a place he had just 
passed, pushed his horse up the steep second bank of the 
river, where he discovered Capt. John Davis running towards 
him, pursued by four Indians. Pillow dashed forward, and 
the Indians, discontinuing their pureuit of Davis, ran oif 
in the opposite direction. He then dismounted and soon 
overtook and killed one of the Indians. At that moment 
Capt. Murray, Thomas Cox, Robert Evans, Luke Ander- 
son, and William Ewing rode up, when Pillow pointed out 
to them the direction in which one of the fugitives had 
gone. They immediately made pursuit, and saw the Indian 
endeavoring to mount Pillow's horse, which he succeeded in 
doing. Cox ran up and shot him through the shoulder, 
but he nevertheless held on to the horse, which he kept at a 
gallop until the whole company came up with him. He 
now slipped off the horse, and as he came to the ground 
scared Luke Anderson's mule, which ran under a low tree 
the limbs of which jerked his gun out of his hand. The 
brave Indian instantly caught it up and snapped it three or 
four times at them before Evans shot him down. Pursuit 
was then made by Andrew Castleman and others of the 
two other Indians whom Pillow had driven ofi" from Davis. 
They were found hid in the water under a bluff of rocks 
and both shot. Others were found concealing themselves 
under the bank and suiFered the same fate. Eleven warriors 
were killed, — the whole party, as was ascertained from the 
squaws who were taken prisoners. Three of the squaws 
were also killed in firing into the camp, two only being 
taken alive. 

Early in May, Nathaniel Teal, the express-rider from 
Natchez, was killed a short distance from Gen. Robertson's. 
Capts. Rains and Gordon soon got ready their coliipanies 
and pursued. The trail led out to Cuthry's Creek, about 
twenty miles to the west of Columbia, and was that of a 
band which had been hunting in that locality and had come 
in for horses to carry oif the produce of their hunt. They 
were overtaken at the second creek below the mouth of 
Elk, where they had halted to rest. The uplands were 
open, but the bottoms covered with cane. Twenty men 
advanced in the centre. Rains to the right and Gordon to 
the left ; when the centre fired, the wings charged. Capt. 
Gordon was stopped by a high blufi^, but he and Joseph 
Brown dismounted and continued the pursuit. Brown 
was sufiering at the time with a wound in the shoulder, 
which necessitated his carrying a light shot-gun loaded 

i'liotu. uy Aniisiroiig.fiMisiivillc. 

John Thompson, the subject of this sketch, wus of Scotch- 
Irish descent, and was the son of Thomas and Nancy Thomp- 
son, and was born in an old stockade on the farm where he 
always lived, four miles south of Nashville, on the 1st of June, 
1793. His father was a native of Guilford, N. C, and emi- 
grated to Tennessee, and settled on a tract of six hundred and 
forty acres of land, four miles south of Nashville, soon after the 
first settlement of Davidson County. Here he built a log 
cabin and commenced the clearing of his farm. Here was 
the place where his children were born, among whom was his 
son John. Thomas Thompson became greatly embarrassed 
on account of his going security for friends, but the farm was 
redeemed by his son John, who became in time the sole owner 
of the old home. 

Thomas Thompson was a plain, unassuming man, charitable 
towards all, and hospitable to the poor. He had five children, 
of whom John was the second. He died March, 1837, his 
wife having died previously, and both were buried on the 
farm in the old family cemetery. 

John Thompson died April 18, 1876, and from the pen of a 
friend we quote the following, written at the time of his death : 

" It is not often one is called upon to chronicle the events of 
such a life. Nearly eighty-three years ago, in the then sparsely 
settled neighborhood a few miles south of Nashville, in a 
block house, John Thompson first saw the light. Then David- 
son County had some three or four thousand inhabitants, and 
the whole State of Tennessee not over forty thousand. Nash- 
ville was a trading-post, a mere village ; cane-brakes were 
everywhere; a few settlers' cabins and an occasional block- 
house might be found, and the Indians were still occupying 
the country. He lived through nearly three generations ; saw 
Nashville grow from a village to be a city of, saj', thirty thou- 
sand inhabitants, and Davidson County witli sixty-four thou- 
sand people, and the State with more than one and a quarter 
million of inhabitants. These are wonderful changes to take 
place in a single lifetime, — and yet he witnessed them all. The 
cane-brakes have disappeared ; the Indians are gone ; beautiful 
farms and splendid residences dot the country in every direc- 
tion, and all these changes have been wrought in his day. 

" Mr. Thompson commenced life poor, — as the world calls 
poor, — and yet he was rich, endowed by nature with a capa- 
bility of self-reliance. Trusting in his own strong arm, with 
persistent energy he secured a competency, and finally a large 

" The subject of this sketch was four times married : first to 
JNliss Mary Washington, then to Mrs. Buchanan, Mrs. Kaw- 
lings, and finally to Mrs. Mary H. House, who survives him. 
Only three children survive these marriages, — one daughter 
(Mrs. Jo. Horton) and two sons, all living near the city. 
Mr. Thompson was a man of the strongest native sense, clear 
judgment, the strictest morals, and an integrity unstained and 
unquestioned. Sober, thoughtful, patient, kind in his feelings 
and expressions towards his fellow-men, he was honored and 
esteemed by those who knew him best in a very high degree. 
He was the kindest of husbands, and a loving, faithful father, 
sparing no pains and no expense to make all about him com- 
fortable and happy. 

" His home was the abode of hospitality. The writer knew 
him intimately for many years, and was often at his house, 
and spent many pleasant hours with him and his happy 
family. But he has gone ; he who for more than fourscore 
years walked among men has met the fate of all, and gone 
down to his grave. He leaves behind a large estate, and what 
is far better, that best heritage for his children, a good name. 
" ' Ouly the actions of the just 

Smell sweet and blossom in the dust' " 

His daughter — Ann Elizabeth — by his third marriage mar- 
ried Joseph W. Horton, who is a hardware merchant in Nash- 
ville. His sons, John M. and Joseph H.,are the children of his 
fourth wife, Mrs. Mary H. House, — maiden name, Hamilton, 
— daughter of Joseph D. and Sarah B. Hamilton, of Russell- 
ville, Ky. John M. Thompson married Mary McConnel, 
daughter of John Overton, and has one daughter, Mary. He 
occupies the old house, is a large farmer, and deals largely in 
fine stock. Joseph H. is also a farmer, and resides on a part 
of the old farm, very near where his father was born. He 
married Ella, daughter of Michael Vaughn, and has one 
daughter, Emma. 



with buek-sliot. Ho discovered an Indian squat in tlie 
bed of a branch to avoid the observation of Gordon, wlio 
was after another, when he raised liis gun at the distance 
of three rods and, firing, tore his head to fragments. Gor- 
don liilled his man. Capt. Rains' company, on the right, 
killed three and took a boy. 

On June 11th, Mrs. Gear was killed and scalped while 
on her way to church four miles soutji of Nashville. By 
this time the list of victims had become fearful and sicken- 
ing to contemplate. Capt. Gordon, on the death of Blrs. 
Gear, was ordered by Col. Winchester to pursue. Gen. Rob- 
ertson being absent on a visit to the Governor at Knoxville. 
He had private instructions to explore a route by which 
an army could reach the Nickajack and Running Water 

On reaching the foot of the Cumberland Mountains to 
the southeast of Nashville, Col. Roberts, who was along 
in some capacity not officially recorded, asked for volun- 
teers to go on a scout with him to the Tennessee River. 
Joshua Thomas, Elihu Green, and Joseph Brown were the 
ones who came forward to accompany him on this danger- 
ous service. Joseph Brown was the first to volunteer, but 
as he was then suffering from a wound in the shoulder 
inflicted some months before. Col. Roberts declined his 
services, saying that he did not want " invalids." Brown, 
however, had peculiar qualifications for this occasion, as 
will appear by the recital below, and was at length accepted. 
He had a singularly eventful history. His father had 
started in a boat to descend the Tennessee and thus reach 
the. Cumberland settlements in 1788, having a large family 
of his own besides five young men and an old lady. On 
reaching the Nickajack town he was boarded by a large body 
of Indians in canoes, under the guise of friendship and 
pretense of a desire to trade. On getting possession, the 
Indians cut ofi' his head with a sword, killed two of his 
sons and the five young men and the old lady mentioned 
above. His mother, the rest of his brothers and sisters, 
and himself were taken prisoners. He was then a lad 
twelve years old. Being claimed by Chiachattalla, the des- 
perate chief who was afterwards killed while endeavoring to 
set fire to Buchanan's Station, he was adopted into the family 
of Tom Tunbridge,* the father of Chiachattalla, which 
proved a fortunate circumstance. He was threatened with 
death several times, and the would-be murderers were only 
restrained by a fear that Chiachattalla, then regarded as the 
most desperate man in the nation, though young in years, 
would exact revenge, as Brown had become by the act of 
adoption his property. The menaces against his life were 
instigated by an old woman who practiced the art of con- 
juring by some kind of manipulation of different colored 
beans in a sifter. Repeated trials of the process resulted 
uniformly against him, and she declared that, " he 
was killed, he would pilot an army there when he grew up 
to be a man, and cut them all off," a prophecy that was 
now about to have a literal fulfillment. After a captivity of 

■■■:■ Tom Tunbridge was an Innhman, His wife was a Frenchwoman. 
They had no children. The captor of Brown was her son by au In- 
dian father. This half-breed was known by the name of Job. See 
Brown's narrative, in Ramsey. The Indian who threatened to kill 
him was Cutleatoy. 

eleven months he was rescued by General Sevier, when he 
found his way to the Cumberland settlements, where on 
every occasion he was foremost in seeking satisfaction for 
the injuries he had sustained at the hands of his cruel and 
bloodthirsty enemies. 

These circumstances made him peculiarly qualified for 
the service on which he was now called. The party of 
Col. Roberts started early in the morning, and on reaching 
the top of the mountain discovered a well-beaten path which 
led in the direction of the river, which they followed, and 
reached the foot on the other side, at the mouth of Battle 
Creek, about sunset. There being good moonlight, they 
went up by Lowery's Island, to a point opposite Nickajack, 
when their exploration being satisfactory, they returned up 
the mountain, marching nearly all night; after resting two 
hours, they resumed their march and came into the settle- 

Capt. Gordon, after the departure of the scouts, turned 
down Elk River, where he overtook and defeated a party 
of Indians, killing one and losing one of his own men, 
Robert McRory. 

As said before, the murders had now become frequent, 
and of the most exasperating nature. Col. Chew and fifteen 
companions had been massacred in a boat while descending 
to the lower Cumberland ; Maj. George Winchester, a 
brother of Col. James Winchester, and a most valuable 
citizen, and the two young Bledsoes, sons of Cols. Anthony 
and Isaac Bledsoe, had been waylaid and killed in the very 
heart of the settlement in Sumner County. Besides these 
many others had fallen. Forbearance could endure no 
longer. The fiat went forth that this modern Carthage 
should be destroyed. The feelings of the people could no 
longer be restrained, and they determined with one voice 
that the lower towns should not be spared longer than it 
would require an army to march thither and effect their 
utter destruction. Gen. Robertson had been urging upon 
the Governor, and through him (he general government, the 
necessity of such an invasion in the interests of peace. 
The Governor, though he secretly approved of the proposed 
measures, and actually threw means in the way to aid its 
accomplishment, protested that his orders from President 
Washington would not permit his sanction of it, especially 
as Congress at its last session, with a full statement of the 
facts before it, had failed to authorize such an invasion. 
On receipt of this intelligence, active preparations wore at 
once .set on foot for the successful prosecution of the cam- 
paign, and such was the temper of the people, from Gen. 
Robertson down, that nothing short of actual physical force 
on the part of the government could have prevented its 
execution. They had brooded over their wrongs and iu- 
juries until it was a cruel insult to ask of them further 

To make sure of the success of their enterprise, it was 
decided to ask aid from Kentucky, and Capt. Sampson 
Williams was dispatched thither to ask co-operation. The 
border settlements of that State had long been sufferers 
from the same cruelties and at the same hands. The mi.s- 
siou was successful. Col. Whitley, an active and experi- 
enced leader in Indian warfare, engaged to come at the 
appointed time and bring all the men he could raise. Col. 



Ford raised a force between Nashville and Clarksville, on 
the north side of the river, and Col. John Montgomery 
levied a body at Clarksville, which constituted a company 
under Capt. Miles, while Gen. Robertson collected volun- 
teers south of the river. About the time these troops 
were being concentrated at Brown's Station, Maj. Orr op- 
portunely arrived from Knoxville with a force dispatched 
by order of the Governor for the protection of the Mero 
District. On being solicited, he too joined heartily in the 
enterprise, a pretty fair indication that he had an under- 
standing with the Governor. In order to give the color 
of claim for the pay and equipment of the entire body of 
troops, he was requested to take command, and the expedi- 
tion was known as " Orr's campaign." However, on the 
arrival of Col. Whitley the command was conferred upon 
him by unanimous consent, on account of his long services 
and experience. Col. John Montgomery was elected to 
command the Cumberland volunteers. The erdcr of march 
was made to Maj. Orr by Gen. Robertson for reasons above 
given, and was express as to his passing the river and at- 
tacking the lower towns if he failed to find the enemy be- 
fore reaching that boundary ; this order was dated Septem- 
ber the 6th. On the 7th, which was Sunday, the column 
took up line of march, and encamped that night at the 
Black Fox Spring, having made about thirty miles ; they 
then crossed the Barren Fork of Duck River, near the 
ancient Stone Fort, thence to Fennison's Spring, thence 
crossing Elk River at a point since known as Caldwell's 
Bridge, and thence over the Cumberland Mountain, reach- 
ing the Tennessee about three miles below the mouth of 
the Sequatchie about nightfall. Most of the troops re- 
mained on this bank until daylight, but many swam over 
to make sure of the crossing. George Flynn, a. protcgi of 
old Obed Terrill, who explored and hunted on the Cumber- 
land in 1769, was the first to swim over. The river was 
about throe-fourths of a mile wide at this point, and Flynn 
was so chilled by his long stay in the water that on arriv- 
ing on the other bank he built up a little fire in a sheltered 
place. Lieut. George Blackmore, of the Sumner volun- 
teers, on observing this swore and railed so loudly to put 
out the fire that he committed the worst offense of the 

Col. Joseph Brown in his narrative says that Findleston, 
the half-breed guide, was the first to swim over, accom- 
panied by his brother, Daniel G. Brown, and William Topp, 
to make sure against treachery. The statement of George 
Flynn's claim to the credit of being the first to cross is 
that advanced and maintained by Edmond Jennings, who 
was present and himself swam the river many times during 
the night, pushing over the rawhide boats containing the 
arms and ammunition. We here give an extract from Col. 
Brown's narrative : 

" We killed four steers, stretched their hides, and thus 
made two hide-boats to carry our arms over tiie Tennessee 
River. On my arrival there I found myself in my old horse 
range whilst with the Indians, and of course capable of serv- 
ing as a guide or pilot. Findleston, a half-breed Indian, in 
whom I had no confidence, was the regular guide, and he 
proposed to swim the river, build a fire on the other bank 
to guide the rest and the two boats, and wait foi\us. My 

brother, Daniel G. Brown, and William Topp swam over 
with him and stayeiby him until the men, about two hun- 
dred and thirty in all, who could swim, got across. Many, 
however, who could swim were afraid of taking the cramp 
from so long an immersion in the water. It certainly ap- 
peared a desperate adventure at first sight to swim a river 
half a mile wide in the night to fight a horde of savages 
who had never been chastised. However, into the river 
we went, and fortunately not one was drowned, as, had any 
been in danger, the two little hide-boats, fragile as they 
were, and laden with arms, would have been of no service 
to aid in saving life. The men swam and pushed over the 
boats. Some pushed over rafts they had made, rather than 
wait for the boats to be shoved backwards and forwards, and 
Col. William Pillow was one of the number who made the 
raft. Maj. Joseph B. Porter, who could not swim a rod, 
got a little bunch of cane, tied them together, and holding 
on to them, kicked himself across, landing in safety. Maj. 
Orr had nominally the command; but Col. Whitley, of Ken- 
tucky, old Col. Mansco, of Sumner, and such other old men 
and officers as Edmonston, Rains, Gordon, Pillow, and John- 
ston, were summoned in council upon the movements of the 
expedition. We kept the hide-boats going back and forth, 
carrying arms and clothes, until it was day ; and we did not 
get off until after sunrise. We went straight onward along 
between Nickajack Town and Long Island Town, and up the 
mountain, coming in opposite Nickajack. I was sent off 
with twenty men to head the Indians at the mouth of the 
creek, supposing they should run that way. 

" There I lay for an hour, hearing the Indians frolicking, 
they not dreaming of danger until the guns fired at the 
upper end of the town, when myself and men dashed for- 
ward, and we had a severe fight of it in the cane-brake. 
We killed a good many of them. I took a squaw prisoner 
and got into the mouth of the creek, where I found the 
main body of our men, with many prisoners (sure enough 
I had made good the fears of the Indians, expressed when 
I was a prisoner among them : I had ' grown up to be a 
man, and had piloted an army there to cut them off!'). I 
found in a canoe across the creek a wounded Indian, and on 
turning him over he attacked, and after a hard struggle, in 
which he tried to throw me overboard, I nearly scalped 
him, and he cried 'enough.' I told him in my wrath it 
was not ' enough,' and throwing him overboard, one of the 
men shot him in the water. I went on with the squaw to 
a cabin and saw a good deal of whispering amongst others 
of them whom I found there, they having recognized their 
old prisoner. They were much gratified when I told them 
in Cherokee that we did not intend to massacre them. One 
of the women told me that she ' had often warned her hus- 
band that such would be the result in return for their cru- 
elties,' and in reply I told them ' we were compelled to fight 
them, because they would not let us remain at peace.' They 
asked ' how we got there at that time of day ;' whether ' we 
came from the clouds, as they knew nothing of our ap- 

" We took twenty-two prisoners, and on the road from 
Nickajack to Running Water we had another fight, and my 
brother-in-law, Joshua Thomas, was shot, the wound being 
mortal. He, however, was carried home, and lived six 



weeks. He was the first man fired at near Eaton's Fort, 
and the only one killed on this expedition." 

Thomas was one of the most active and daring of the 
defenders of the infant settlements. Several of his family 
had already been killed. His death was due to his im- 
prudence in not taking a tree in the fight at the Narrows, as 
he was urged to do by Edmond Jennings, who had been his 
almost constant companion for years. 

We quote from Ramsey : 

" Nickajack was a small town inhabited by two or three 
hundred men and their families. . . . The troops were 
landed a little before day. At daylight they fell into ranks 
and were counted by Capt. John Gordon, and the exact 
number who had crossed over was ascertained to be two 
hundred and sixty-five. At the back of Nickajack field the 
men were formed into line of buttle among the cane. Col. 
Whitley was on the right, and struck above the mouth of 
the creek that rose in the field. Col. Montgomery was on 
the right of the troops from the Territory. Orders were 
given for the two wings to march so as to strike the river 
above and below the towns. On the march two houses 
were found standing out in the field about two hundred 
and fifty yards from the town. Expecting that from these 
houses their approach would be discovered by the Indians, 
the troops were here directed to push with all speed to the 
town. The corn was growing close up to and around the 
houses. Near the house on the left the firing commenced, 
and was returned by the Indians, one of whom was here 
killed. From one of the houses already mentioned a plain 
path was seen leading to the town. William Pillow got into 
it, and ran rapidly along it until he reached the commons. 
Perceiving that he had got in advance of such of the 
troops as had come through the corn-field, Pillow halted 
until others came up. The march or run was then con- 
tinued by the doors of the houses, which were all open. 
The Indians at the report of the first gun had run oflF to the 
bank of the river. The troops pursued the leading way 
to the landing. Here they saw five or six large canoes, 
stored with goods and Indians, and twenty-five or thirty 
warriors standing on the shore near the edge of the water. 
At these Pillow fired, and soon after a whole platoon sent 
a volley of rifle-balls, from the effect of which scarce an 
Indian escaped alive. A few by diving and others by cov- 
ering themselves over in the canoes with goods escaped, 
and got out of reach of the rifles. 

" About the same time the havoc took place at the landing 
below. Col. Whitley attacked the Indians above the mouth of 
the creek. They were not more than a gun-shot apart. Fif- 
teen men had been directed to stop near the two houses in 
the corn-field and waylay there until the firing had taken 
place in the town. When the report of the rifles was heard 
this detachment attacked the houses. A squaw had re- 
mained outside to listen. A fellow came to the door and 
was shot down. Those within drew him inside and closed 
the door, leaving the squaw on the outside. She attempted 
to escape by flight, but after *a hard chase was taken pris- 
oner. The warriors within made holes through the wall, 
and made a desperate defense. The squaw taken prisoner 
was carried up to the town, and placed among the other 
prisoners in canoes. As they were taking them down the 

river to the crossing the squaw loosed her clothes and 
sprang headforemost into the river, disengaging herself 
artfully from her clothes and leaving them floating on the 
water. She swam with great agility, and was rapidly 
making her escape ; some hallooed ' Shoot her, shoot her I' 
But others, admiring her energy, activity, and boldness, 
replied, ' She is too smart to kill !' and allowed the hero- 
ine to escape. 

" After the troop got on the mountain on the other side 
of the town, Joseph Brov?n was sent back with twenty 
men to head and intercept the Indians at the mouth of the 
creek below the town, when the main body of the assailants 
should have driven the enemy to that point. This he 
efiected successfully, though his return was resisted the 
whole way down, about a quarter of a mile, by the constant 
fire of the Indians. When Brown met the main body he 
inquired if they had taken any prisoners, and was immedi- 
ately conducted to a house in which a number of them had 
been fastened up. When he came to the door he was at 
once recognized by the captives, who appeared to be horror- 
stricken, remembering, no doubt, that they had murdered 
his people in the same town five years before. At length 
one of them ventured to speak to him, reminding Brown 
that his life had been spared by them, and importuning him 
now to plead in their behalf He quieted their apprehen- 
sions by remarking that these were white people, who did 
not kill women and children. Her answer was, ' see 
skinney cotanconey' (Oh, that is good news for the 
wretched !)." 

When the Indians in the upper town, Running Water, 
heard the firing, they caught up their guns and repaired to 
the assistance of their friends, whom they soon met in terrified 
retreat. These made a stand at a narrow pass where the 
mountain juts against the river, where, placing themselves 
behind rocks, they made a brief stand, but were soon driven 
back through their town, which was destroyed. The Nicka- 
jack town was also burnt. The loss of the Indians was 
seventy warriors, as they afterwards confessed, a great many 
having been killed in the water of which no estimate could 
be made by the whites at the time. The Breath, a renowned 
Cherokee chief, was among the slain, along with several 
others of lesser n ite. This victory was the counterpart of 
Coldwater, and broke up the operations of the most daring 
and enterprising band of robbers and marauders that ever 
infested the Western waters. It was the point of crossing 
for the Creek invaders, and was the source of innumerable 
woes to the Cumberland settlers. The situation was well 
adapted for security from attack, being protected by three 
mountains and a wide river. 

This battle was fought on the 13th of September, 1794. 
In the afternoon of this day the troops recrossed the river 
and rejoined their comrades, who had been left in charge of 
the horses. The next morning they took up the line of 
march homeward, and reached Nashville on the fifth day, 
where the volunteers were disbanded, having been absent 
twelve days. 

Notwithstanding the destruction of Nickajack and Run- 
niu"- Water, murder and devastation were still carried into 
the very heart of the Cumberland settlements. It was evi- 
dent that these marauders had come principally from the 


Creek nation, as the Cherokees were now too mucli bumbled 
to dare any further hostility, especially as they now learned 
that an invasion of the lower Creek towns was being organ- 
ized in Kentucky and Tennessee. Gen. Logan, of the for- 
mer State, had already advanced for this purpose, and Maj. 
Orr had passed through Knoxville in order to co-operate 
with him, when Governor Blount, having received very 
friendly overtures from Double- Head, a leading Cherokee 
chief, wrote to these officers to postpone operations. This 
they consented to do, and on the 7th of November the con- 
ference was held at Tillico, attended by John Watts, old 
Solacutta, and other chiefs, and about four hundred war- 
riors. In the mean time Gen. Robertson had written Watts, 
after the Nickajack campaign, that another expedition would 
be sent against the Cherokee towns if he did not restrain 
his men from incursions upon his people and restore the 
captive women and children. 

At this conference the chiefs were very contrite, and fully 
admitted that the Nickajack and Running Water towns de- 
served the treatment they had received. At this time the 
tidings of another defeat had reached the ears of the 
Southern Indians, whicli went further towards breaking 
their spirits. Wayne had won a great victory over the 
Indians and Canadian militia, on the 20th of August, on 
the Miami River. 

Governor Blount now recommended to the government, at 
the instance of his council. Gens. Robertson and Sevier, that 
an expedition be sent into the Creek country, suggesting a 
plan and time of invasion. The question was ably argued 
by him in all its bearings, but the secretary, Mr. Pickering, 
returned an answer that all ideas of offensive operations must 
be abandoned. He intimated further that the whites were 
the aggressors, and that the Indians needed more protection 
against tlie whites than they against the Indians. 

In this and the succeeding conferences it was sought to 
engage the Cherokees in war against the Creeks as the 
most effective way of restraining their depredations. At 
the conclusion of a treaty with Spain, whose influence was 
now in .some measure withdrawn from Indian affairs, hostili- 
ties on the part of the Creeks now gradually abated, and 
the succeeding year witnessed the burying of the tomahawk, 
where it rested undisturbed until it was again uplifted and 
bathed in the blood of hundreds of innocent victims at the 
massacre of Fort Mimms, Alabama, in 1813. 

But one other organized force during the pioneer period 
left tlie Cumberland to engage in a hostile expedition. 
Early in the year 1795 a large force of Creeks, numbering 
it is said two thousand warriors, took up their march to 
attack the Chickasaws, on account of their friendship for 
the whites. Piamingo, the Chickasaw leader, now applied 
to his friend. Gen. Robertson, for assistance, claiming the 
reciprocal benefit of the treaties, and reminding him of the 
firm friendship of his nation and the services his warriors 
had rendered as allies of the whites. Gen. Robertson had 
no authority to make a levy for this purpose, but asked 
old Col. Mansker and Capt. David Smith and others to go 
to the assistance of their friends, the Chickasaws. Capt. 
Smith accompanied Gen. Colbert, a Chickasaw chief, with 
fifteen or twenty men, by land to Logtown, in the Chicka- 
saw country. Col. John Mansker, Capt. John Gwynn, and 

Capt. George went down the river in boats, and reached 
their destination early in May. 

On the 28th of May the Creeks appeared before the fort 
and killed and scalped two women who had gone out for 
wood. Capt. Smith proposed to Colbert to take charge of 
the whites, if Colbert would take the Indians and make a 
sortie. Colbert objected, saying that it was what the Creeks 
wanted, to get the men drawn out of the fort. At this stage 
some relatives of the murdered women rushed out and fell 
upon the Creeks, but being overpowered were compelled to 
retreat with the loss of one of their number killed and 
scalped. Capt. Smith's feelings becoming very much ex- 
cited at this, he again renewed his proposition to Colbert 
to make a sortie, who now consented. Seeing these demon- 
strations the Creeks began to retreat, but they were over- 
taken and fired into by Smith's and Colbert's men, leaving 
a number killed and wounded. They thereupon shortly 
returned to their homes without making any further demon- 



Early Settlers of Davidson County — Brief Reminiscences of those 
living on the Different Roads leading out of Nashville as early as 
1809 — Magistrates of the County. 

The following recollections of Col. Willoughby Williams, 
an old resident of Nashville and former sheriff of Davidson 
County, begin with the year 1809. They form a valuable 
contribution to the early history of the county, by preserving 
the names, locations, and many facts of interest respecting 
a large number of citizens who resided, at the period of 
which he writes, on the different roads leading in and out 
of Nashville. 

The most important road leading to and from Nashville 
at that time, and up to the building of the turnpike road, 
was the Murfrcesboro' dirt road, which led from the pub- 
lic square on Market Street, out by the old Cumberland Col- 
lege to where Mr. John Trimble now resides, then on, cross- 
ing Mill Creek at R. C. Foster's mill. The first promi- 
nent citizen on this road was Col. Joel Lewis, who had a 
brother living at Fairfield, — William Terrel Lewis, — which 
was afterwards the home of William B. Lewis. There was 
no road leading by William B. Lewis' house ; a lane, how- 
ever, extended to the Murfrcesboro' road, and this was the 
road to Fairfield, the stopping-place of Gen. Jackson when 
he visited Nashville. 

Col. Joel Lewis was the father of Mrs. Thomas Claiborne, 
who was the widow of James King, a wealthy merchant, 
and brother of William King, the owner of " King's Salt- 
Works" in Virginia. He had other daughters and sons, — 
John H. Lewis, a lawyer, who moved to Huntsville, Ala., 
at an early day ; William Terrel Lewis, who lived at Fair- 
field, had five or six daughters. Dr. Claiborne, a brother of 
Governor Claiborne, of New Orleans, married the eldest 
daughter, who died early in life, leaving two children, Mi- 
cajah G. L. and Mary Claiborne. She afterwards mai-ried 

^ ^^ 



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com^ J 



Abram P. Murry, a very prominoiit man, and once an editor 
of a Nashville paper. Alfred Baleh, John H. Eaton, and 
William B. Lewis married three other daughters, all of 
whom died soon after marriage. The youngest daughter, 
whose name was Charlotte, lived some years before marry- 
ing, but finally married Maj. Baker, of New Orleans, and 
died soon afterwards. 

Maj. William B. Lewis, although of the same name, was 
not related ; he had two children who inherited the home 
of William Terrel Lewis. There is where William B. Lewis 
became the confidential friend of Gen. Jackson. 

A few miles farther on this road forked, one branch 
going to Lebanon by Buchanan's mill. The most promi- 
nent citizen on this road was Col. Michael Campbell, an 
early settler and large land-owner, and the grandfather of Col. 
Campbell Goodlett, a lawyer of Nashville. At the cross- 
ing of Mill Creek, on this road, was where Maj. John Bu- 
chanan built his famous " Fort" which served as a protec- 
tion from the assaults of the Indians. Blaj. Buchanan left 
several sons, from whom much information can be obtained. 
This road continues on by Walter Sims' to Thomas Hard- 
ing's, by Jackson and Coffee's old store-house, crossing- 
Stone's River, passing Timothy Dodson's, to the Hermitage. 
Mr. Dodson was a successful farmer, and left several sous, 
who reside at the old homestead. 

The Hermitage neighborhood was regarded as the best 
section of Davidson County, the soil being better adapted 
for cotton than any other part of the country, and was settled 
by wealthy men and cotton-planters ; among them were Gen. 
Jackson, Col. Edward Ward (who was speaker of the 
Senate in 1817, a man of talent and fine personal appear- 
ance, was a candidate for Governor, and beaten for that 
office by Gen. William Carroll), Maj. William Ward, 
Capt. John Donelson, the brother of Mrs. Jackson and 
the father of Mrs. Gen. Coffee, Mrs. McLemore, Mrs. Wil- 
liam Easton, Mrs. James Martin, and Mrs. Andrew J. 
Donelson. Capt. Donelson was a wealthy man in lands 
and slaves, and a successful planter. Sevan and Severn 
Donelson were also brothers of Mrs. Jackson. Gen. Thomas 
Overton, the friend of Gen. Jackson in the duel with Charles 
Dickinson, Dr. Hadley, Capt. Moseley, the step-father of 
Johr L. Brown, of Nashville, and others, all lived in this 

There also lived here John Anthony Winston and brother, 
two very prominent men, who emigrated to Alabama and 
settled near Tuscumbia. They arc the ancestors of the nu- 
merous Winstons in that State, among whom was Governor 
John A. Winston. 

In the same neighborhood lived a large family of Gleaves, 
early settlers and prominent men, some of whom are still 

On the Murfreesboro' fork of this road the first promi- 
nent citizen was Robert C. Foster, the father of Ephraim 
H. Foster and other sons, who were all prominent men. He 
had no daughters. Mr. Foster was one of the very best 
men of the county, a leading magistrate, and a Christian 
gentleman, a member of the Legislature, and once a candi- 
date for Governor in opposition to Governor McMinn. He 
erected a large mill upon Mill Creek, which was a great 
convenience to the neighborhood. The next man was Mr. 

Kennedy, the father of Mrs. Hettie McEwen and Judge 
Kennedy, who moved to Lincoln County in 1808 or 1809. 
Mr. Murphy came next as an early and respectable settler. 
In this section lived Esquire Samuel Bell, the father of 
Hon. John Boll, a distinguished statesman of Tennessee, 
who was born on Mill Creek. Also, Col. Thomas Wil- 
liamson, one of Jackson's colonels in the Creek war and 
at New Orleans, who was regarded as a brave, gallant, and 
chivalrous gentleman, was a member of the Legislature of 
Tennessee in 1817, representing the lower house with the 
Hon. James Trimble, in session at Knosville ; and Esquire 
E. H. East, the father of Judge East of Nashville, a man 
of positive character, fearless and independent in his ex- 
pression of opinion of men and measures, and one of the 
most ardent Whigs of the county. Then comes John 
Sangster, who kept tavern on the hill ; next Esquire King, 
a clever, wealthy citizen, who lived where Dempey Weaver 
now lives. Then Mrs. Vaulx, living near the present Hos- 
pital for the Insane ; she was the mother of the late Joseph 
Vaulx and James Vaulx, the latter being then a large locator 
of lands in the western district. In this neighborhood lived 
Charles Hays, the grandfather of Thomas Hays and Mrs. 
Samuel Blurphy, a prominent citizen, Christian man, and 
the founder of the Baptist Church at Antioch. Next 
came Buchanan's tavern, a noted house of entertainment 
near Smyrna. 

The next road leading from Nashville commenced on 
College Street, passing the city cemetery, crossing Brown's 
Creek just above the railroad-crossing. The first promi- 
nent man on this road was Mr. John Rains, the grand- 
father of Robertson Rains. Then came Mr. Ridley, an 
early settler, who raised a large family ; two of his sons, 
Moses and Henry Ridley, lived on Stuart's Creek, in 
Rutherford County, and were large cotton-planters, promi- 
nent and influential men. Another son was James Ridley ; 
he was a noted citizen of Davidson County. The next 
man worthy of note was Michael C. Dunn, a very intelli- 
gent man, once sheriff of Davidson County, who married 
the daughter of John Rains. He raised a large family of 
talented sons and daughters, one of whom is William D. 
Dunn, a lawyer and wealthy citizen of Mobile, and also the 
grandfather of Mrs. Joseph W. Horton. William Dick- 
son, once a senator in Congress, lived on this road, and 
Hinchy Petway owned the place afterwards. The next 
man was Jonas Menifee, an old settler, owning a fine body 
of land, which was his " Headright," now owned by Mel- 
ville Williams. The next place was John Topp's, the 
father of four sons, all prominent men in Tennessee and 
Mississippi; Robertson Topp, of Memphis; Mrs. Thomas 
Martin, of Pulaski, the mother of Mrs. Judge Spofford ; 
and Mrs. Claiborne, who lives on Spruce Street. The next 
man was Judge John Haywood, a learned lawyer of North 
Carolina, judge of the Supreme Court of Tennessee, and 
an ornament to the legal profession, who lived and died 
and was buried on this place. Next was Dr. William 
Moore, a .son-in-law of Judge Haywood, who moved at an 
early day to Huntsville. In this neighborhood lived 
W. H. Nance, a magistrate of the county and a leading 
member of the Baptist Church, full of energy and devotion 
to the public good. Then comes Benajah Gray, an intel- 



ligent, leading man, and one of the magistrates of the 
county. Mr. Enoch Ensley also lived in thi.s neighbor- 
hood ; he was a constable with great money-making ca- 
pacity, and became one of the wealthy men of Tennessee. 
Esquire Herbert Towns lived in this neighborhood ; he was 
a magistrate and a man of intelligence, from whom much 
information can be obtained, as he is still living. This 
road was known then as the " Fishing Ford" of Duck 
River, passing Hardiman's cross-roads, now known as the 
Nolansville Pike. 

The next road leading from Nashville was called the 
Upper Franklin, now known as the Franklin Turnpike. 
It passes out Spruce Street by the custom-house. The 
first prominent man on the road was Joseph Coleman, who 
was an ofEcer in the United States army. He built the 
first fine house, which still stands behind the undertaking 
establishment of Groomes & Co., on Cherry Street, owned 
afterwards by Josiah Nichul. He also built the house on 
College Hill formerly owned by Maj. Rutledge, now the 
residence of Edward Baxter. 3Ir. Coleman also built the 
house of Mr. Joseph W. Horton, where he lived and died. 

The next man of note was George Michael Deadcrick, 
who lived at the place now owned by the Robert Wood's 
estate. He was the first president of the old Nashville 
Bank, and a wealthy leading citizen of Nashville. 

Then came Thomas Thompson, the father of the late 
John Thompson, both of whom lived and died on this 
place. Also, in this neighborhood lived Jason Tiiompson, 
who married a sister of Judge JIcNairy, also the grand- 
jfiither of Emmett Thompson, of Lebanon. John Overton, 
known throughout the State as a man of great legal ability 
and the wealthiest man in the State. Next man was 
Thomas Edmondson, one of the best citizens of the county, 
and a leading magistrate. He possessed the entire confi- 
dence of Judge Overton, his near neighbor. The next 
early settler was Robert Scales, a very clever gentleman. 

The next road was called the Middle Franklin, now 
known as the Granny White Pike. Tlie first prominent 
men on this road were Dr. James Overton and Robert B. 
Curry, who lived on what is called Curry's Hill. The 
next place was Nathan Ewing's, where Dr. Gale now re- 
sides. Then Tanner Johnson, a clever Christian man and 
an early settler. The heirs of Mr. John Johns now own 
his place. You next came to Judge John Overton's lands, 
now owned by Judge John M. Lea. Then came the 
" Tavern of Granny White," where all travelers from 
Franklin and Nashville were entertained. In this same 
neighborhood lived Edwin Smith, a well-known citizen of 
that section. 

The next road was known as the Richland Creek and 
Wharton road, which forked at Cockrill's Spring. This 
road led from Church Street by the Female Academy, round 
to Cedar Street or Charlotte road, running with that road 
and turning towards Maj. Boyd's residence, now owned by 
Hal. Hays. Maj. Boyd owned the entire land from the 
Charlotte to the Granny White Pike, all being'a corn-field. 
The road by the State Prison was not opened until about 
1830. Cockrill's Spring was a noted place, — the pre- 
emption title or claim of John Cockrill, who married a 
sister of Gen. James Robertson, also one of the first set- 

tlers in the county. One of his sons was the late Mark 
R. Cockrill. 

On the Wharton road the first prominent man was 
Jesse Wharton, who married the daughter of Joseph Phil- 
lips, and was a retired lawyer, once a member of Congress 
from the Nashville district, and candidate for Governor in 
opposition to Governor McMinn ; also a magistrate of 
Davidson County. The next man was Andrew Castleman, 
a brother-in-law of Nathan Ewing, a pure Christian gen- 
tleman, universally beloved, who settled on his pre-emption 
title, and there lived and died, leaving many descendants, 
among whom is Robert B. Castleman, now living in Nash- 
ville. Then came William Compton, a successful trader. 
Next Stockell's Meeting-house, in the neighborhood of 
which a large family of McCutcheons lived, all good citi- 
zens and Christian men. At this " Meeting-house," on 
Little Harpeth River, ten miles from Nashville, the Rev. 
William Hunre preached once a month, from 1817 up to 
the time of his death. In this neighborhood lived Maj. 
William Edmondson, a prominent man in his section, and 
was one of Gen. Jackson's soldiers at the battles of the 
Creek war and New Orleans. This road is known as the 
Hillsboro' Pike, now leading from Nashville. 

I now return to the other fork leading from Cockrill's 
Spring to Richland Creek, which was known as the Hard- 
ing Pike. The first man of note on this road was Capt. 
Joseph Erwin,who settled on this place in 1805. He was 
a very wealthy man, having large sugar- plantations at Plaque- 
mine, La., though he resided in Tennessee. He was the 
father-in-law of Charles Dickinson, who was killed by Gen. 
Jackson in a duel, and was buried on this place, near the 
turnpike. Dickinson also lived in this neighborhood, in 
sight, on the opposite side of the road. Capt. Erwin was 
the uncle of Governor Newton Cannon, and was the friend 
and backer of Cannon in the great Clover-Bottom race be- 
tween Gen. Jackson and Governor Cannon, which resulted 
in the duel between Dickinson and Jackson. The next 
man was Charles Bosley, a brother of John Bosley, who 
married the sister of Gen. Robertson. Mr. Charles Bosley 
was a large trader and operator at Natchez, Miss., and set- 
tled on this place in 1818. I neglected to mention some 
points of interest in regard to Capt. Erwin which are im- 
portant. He raised a large family,, among them three 
daughters, one of whom married Charles Dickinson ; after 
his death she married Mr. John B. Craighead; another 
married Col. Andrew Hynes ; and a third married William 
Blount Robertson, a brother of Dr. Felix Robertson. He 
was a lawyer by profession, owned and lived at the place 
where Mark Cockrill lived and died. The next man was 
Capt. John Nichols, who settled on his place in 1807. He 
was the bosom friend of Capt. Erwin and Mr. Charles 

The next man was James Maxwell, a Scotchman, who 
owned and lived on the place of the late Archer Cheatham. 
The next man was Mr. John Harding, one of the most in- 
dustrious and successful men of the county. He settled 
in a populous neighborhood, and finally owned the entire 
section. He was the father of William Giles Harding, of 
Belle-Meade. Next was 5Ir. Giles Harding, a brother of 
John Harding, who lived on the place owned afterwards by 



Maj. Daniel Graham, wlio was one of the best-infonncd 
men of that ago, who filled the offices of Secretary of State, 
comptroller, and cashier of the Bank of Tennessee with 
tlie liighest honor. 

Crossing Harpeth Ridge you come to the Deraoss settle- 
ment, a fine section of country, settled by four brothers, 
the most prominent and intelligent of whom was Esquire 
Abram Demoss, the fiither of Judge Abrani Denioss, of 
the Nashville bar. Esquire Abram Deraoss built a fine 
grist- and saw-mill over Big Harpeth, which was of vast 
importance to the neighborhood. He married the daughter 
of Mr. William Newsom, a lady of fine executive ability, 
who aided him in the management of his affiiirs and con- 
tributed largely towards his success in life. He was long 
a prominent magistrate of the county. In this neighbor- 
hood lived Esquire John Davis, the county surveyor, a man 
more universally beloved and esteemed than any man in 
the county for his integrity, honesty, and benevolence. He 
was the grandfather of Ed. D. Hick, of the Commercial 
Insurance Company, and one of the earliest settlers of the 
county. Crossing Harpeth you came to " Edney's Meeting- 
house," at Tank, where all the neighborhood gathered to 
liear Rev. Mr. Edney, a Methodist minister, as early as the 
year 1812. The next man was Mr. Thomas Allison, who 
lived on South Harpeth. Mr. Allison was a leading man 
in this part of the country, and one of the first Van Buren 
men in the county. His son, Thomas Allison, now lives 
at the old homestead. Farther down South Harpeth there 
was a large family of Greers, and a very prominent magis- 
trate, William H. Shelton, who was a leading man in his 
section, and one of the few out,spoken Crawford men at that 
day, when Crawford was a candidate for President. He 
was also quite a military man, and was familiarly known as 
" Baron Steuben," from his efforts to instUl those well- 
known tactics in the minds of the soldiers of that day. 

The next road leading from Nashville out by Charlotte, 
now known as the Charlotte Pike, was second in importance 
to the Murfreesboro' road, as it led west, and was greatly 
traveled by emigrants. The first man of note on this road 
was Matthew Barrow, who lived on the opposite side of the 
road from what is known as Barrow's Hill, in a little frame 
house. He moved afterwards to Barrow's Hill, now the 
" Yellow Fever Hospital," where he died. The next man 
was Dr. Peyton Robertson, a son of Gen. James Robertson. 
This was the beginning of Robertson's Bend, owned and 
occupied by the descendants of Gen. James Robertson. 
Near this place lived John Bosley, who married the sister 
of Gen. Robertson, and was one of the first settlers of the 
county. Above the cVossing of Richland Creek lived Rob- 
ert Hewitt, who owned a large tract of land. One of his 
daughters married Edwin H. Childress, who lived at the old 
homestead. Dr. Felix Robertson owned a large tract of 
land on the right of the road, on which be planted a large 
vineyard in 1818. The place was afterwards owned by 
Brent Spence. 

Next, William E. Watkins, who also married a daughter 
of Jlr. Hewitt; he was a thi'ifty citizen of this county. 

Then came William Blount Robertson, a lawyer and a 
son of Gen. James Robertson, who married a daughter of 
Capt. Joseph Erwin. 

Next was B. J. Joslin, one of the most noted men of 
that day, who lived at a place called Ilillsboro'. He held 
the mail contracts leading south to New Orleans, and was 
familiarly known as " Old-B. J." 

Next was Col. " Dick" Boyd, who commanded a regiment 
in the Creek war, a brave soldier, and afterwards a leadin" 
man in all the elections. He married the daughter of Jo- 
siah Ilorton, who was once sheriff of Davidson County, and 
the father of Joseph W. Horton, also sherifi' of Davidson 

Next was a family of Gowers, early settlers, for whom 
Gower's Island in the Cumberland was called. 

Then we came to the ridge on the top of which lived 
Christopher Robertson, who kept a tavern, which was the 
general stopping-place. Not far from here was a road lead- 
ing to Sam's Creek Springs, a noted place of resort for the 
old families of the county. 

The next place was Dog Creek, on whose waters lived 
Slartin Ussory, an old settler. After crossing Big Har- 
peth, at the mouth of this creek lived Thomas Osborn, a 
clever man and early settler. 

Below tho crOcSsing lived Thomas Scott, the leading mag- 
istrate of the county ; also Jeremiah Baxter, the father of 
Judge Nathaniel Baxter. 

Next came old Mr. Rape, who lived in that neigh- 
borhood. It was here that Montgomery Bell, tho " Iron 
King" of that day, constructed a tunnel, changing the 
course of the river, at the foot of which he erected large 
iron-works. On the waters of Sam's Creek, leading into 
the Cumberland, lived Jesse CuUom, who raised a large 
family of sons. At the mouth of this creek lived William 
Shelton. On the waters of Pond Creek, near this creek, 
lived a large family of Hoopers, among whom is John 
Hooper, ninety years old, and still living. 

On the Cumberland, near the Shoals, lived Enoch Do- 
zler, a wealthy man, good citizen, and a large land-owner. 
Ho has two sons, Dennis and Willoughby Dozier, still Hy- 
ing in the same neighborhood. 

Tlie magistrates of the county at that day were appointed 
by the Governor, and selected from the most intelligent and 
best men of the county. The office was held by them for 
the public good, as there was very little profit attached to 
the office. This is why I have mentioned them so often. 


There were at that day two ferries on the Cumberland, 
one at the mouth of Wilson Spring Branch, above the 
present wharf; the other was near the Sulphur Spring 
Branch, and was the main cro.ssing going to Gallatin and 
to Springfield. There was a third, called Page's Ferry, 
near the race-track, where the river was fordable in low 
water. On the Gallatin road lived Col. Robert Weakley, a 
very prominent citizen of the county. Ho was afterwards 
a member of the Legislature and once a candidate for Gov- 
ernor ; was also a leading magistrate of the county, a very 
influential citizen, and one of the first settlers of the county. 
Near him lived David Vaughn, a very wealthy man and 
the father of Michael and Hiram Vaughn. 

Then Mr. William Williams, a retired lawyer and a man 




of fine intelligence, Josiah Williams, and Thomas Martin, 
all sons-in-law of Blr. Joseph Phillips, a leading wealthy 

Mrs. Martin is still living, in her eighty-seventh year, 
at her old home. 

Just beyond Mr. Williams lived Samuel Love, near Hays- 
boro', which place was settled about the time Nashville 
■was, and for some time there was great competition between 
the two places. This place was settled by Col. Robert 
Hays, who married the sister of Mrs. Jackson, and was the 
father of Col. Storkley D. Hays and the father-in-law of 
Dr. William E. Butler and Robert I. Chester, both of 
whom are now living at Jackson, Tenn. 

Near Haysboro' lived the Rev. Thomas B. Craighead, a 
learned Presbyterian preacher and a very patriotic citizen. 
He built a large church near his residence, and the ceme- 
tery near the church contains the remains of most of the 
prominent citizens of that day. 

Mr. Maxey, the fother of Powhatan and Dr. William 
Maxey, lived at this place. 

Dr. William Gwin, the son of Parson Gwin, who was the 
life-long friend of Jackson, lived here. He was a senator 
from California, and is still living. 

The nest man was Blind-JIan Walker. Dr. William 
Maxey, " Gee's Tavern," and Reuben Payne, an enterpris- 
ing merchant at the mouth of Dry Creek. 

The next early settler was Col. William Donelson, a very 
wealthy man and brother of Mrs. Jackson. His grand- 
daughter married Senator McAdoo, of Waverly. 

Then Mr. Paul Dismukes, living on Blansker's Creek, 
who raised a large family of sons and daughters, among 
whom was John T. Dismukes, a very intelligent and promi- 
nent man, who died early in life. There was a road pass- 
ing up Mansker's Creek, by Dr. Dunn's spring near Good- 
letsville, up said creek to E. P. Connell's and John Bowers', 
both prominent men in this county. E. P. Connell was 
once candidate for county clerk, and was an intelligent 
magistrate of the county. 

Between the Gallatin and Springfield roads there were 
two country roads. On one of these roads lived a noted 
turfman, — Duke W. Sumner. He owned many fine race- 
horses. Near him lived Mr. George Wharton, a brother 
of Jesse Wharton, one of whose daughters married Gen. 
William White, who fought a duel with Gen. Samuel Hous- 
ton. Another daughter married Mr. Samuel Seay, long a 
prominent merchant of Nashville, at whose wedding I 
officiated as groomsman nearly sixty years ago. He was 
the father of George W. Seay. 

Claiborne Hooper also lived in this neighborhood, a 
wealthy, prominent man, and the father of the Hooper 
who had the difficulty with Nance. 

There also lived in this neighborhood Thomas Shannon, 
a leading magistrate of the county. Then came Michael 
Gleaves, the father of John E. Gleaves, late clerk of the 
Chancery Court ; Col. Jesse J. Everett, a prominent citi- 
zen and the father of Mr. Everett, the county register. He 
■was colonel of a regiment of militia, which embraced the 
entire county on the north side of the river. 

The road to Springfield and Clarksville passed Page's 
and Hyde's Ferry. 

Mr. Page lived on the first bluff below Nashville, which 
was afterwards owned by Judge William L. Brown, a dis- 
tinguished lawyer of Tennessee and one of the judges of 
the Supreme Court. He died at this place, and his re- 
mains were buried in an excavation in the bluff overlooking 
the Cumberland River. 

Next, Charles Moorman, a magistrate of the county, and 
a good citizen and a wealthy man. 

We now come to White's Creek, which was largely 
owned by the Stumps, wealthy and influential men of that 
day. Col. John Stump was one of the largest operators 
of that day and a prominent merchant of Nashville, under 
the firm of Stump & Cox, who traded in everything raised 
in the county. They possessed (he most unlimited confi- 
dence of that section, the people depositing all moneys 
with them. The firm failed in 1818 and produced wide- 
spread ruin throughout the county. Col. Stumps was 
afterwards a large locator of lands in the mountains of 
Tennessee, North Carolina, and Georgia. 

On this creek lived two noted men, Isaac and Lewis 
Earthman ; Buchanan H. Lanier, the father of the com- 
mission merchant at Nashville ; and two brothers, Laban 
and Freeman Abernathy. 

We next come to Paradise Hill, on the top of which 
Esquire Thomas Shannon erected a large brick house. 
Here the road forks, one going to Clarksville and the other 
to Springfield. 

Maj. Thomas Hickman, an early settler, lived at Hick- 
man's Ferry, on the Cumberland, about twelve miles below 
Nashville. He was an early settler, a justice of the peace, 
and once sheritf of Davidson County. His only daughter 
married George W. L. Man-, a member of Congress from 
the Clarksville district and a very wealthy man. Below 
Hickman's Ferry, on Sycamore Creek, now Cheatham 
County, but at that time Davidson, was a large settlement, 
among whom were Thomas Shearon, a wealthy gentleman ; 
Wilson Crockptt, the magistrate of the county ; William 
Hollis, Mr. Brinkley, Mr. Demombrune ; also BIr. Eaton, 
an old settler and very intelligent man. 

The road leading from Nashville to Hyde's Ferry passed 
between the lands of David McGavock and Beal Bosley, 
two of the first settlers and owners of large bodies of 
land, and very wealthy men. Mr. McGavock lived on 
and owned the place where the cotton -factory now stands. 
In the rear of this farm is where the duel between Jesse 
Benton and Gen. Carroll took place. Crossing the river 
at this point you came to the Hyde settlement, two of 
whom were Richard and Tazewell Hyde, both early settlers 
and clever, rich men. 

This road also led to White's Creek, on whose waters 
also lived Gilbert Mar.shall and his father; and Joseph L. 
Ewing, who married a daughter of David BIcGavock. 
Born in the year 1798; now in my 
eighty-second year ; mind and 
memory unimpaired by age. 

THE WAR OF 1812-14. 



THE MTAH OF 1812-14. 

Declnration of War — Exiicdition to Natchez — The Creek War — Jack- 
sou's Message to the Spanish Governor — Capt. Gordon's Perilous 
Mission — British Attack on Fort Bowyer — Invasion of the Lower 
Mississippi — Capture of Peusacola by Gen. Jackson — Movement 
upon New Orleans — Memorable March of Gen. Coffee — Battle of 
New Orleans — Conspicuous and Leading Part taken by Davidson 
County Men. 

Repeated acts of aggression on the part of Great 
Britain had ended in a declaration of war against that 
nation by the Congress of the United States on June 12. 
1812. The news reached Nashville in an unusually short 
time for that period, and on the 25th Gen. Jackson, who 
was then senior major-general in the State, having received 
the appointment on the death of Gen. Conway, made a 
tender through Governor Willie Blount to the government 
of the services of twenty-five liundred volunteers. The 
Secretary of War, appreciating the tremendous responsibility 
of the administration in declaring war against the wishes 
of a powerful party, representing the shipping and fishing 
interests, received the ofi"er with " peculiar satisfaction." 
The people of Tennessee had watched with deep interest 
the course of British aggression, and when the " Leopard" 
fired into the " Chesapeake" and forcibly took away a num- 
ber of American sailors whom she claimed as British sub- 
jects, the indignation broke forth in patriotic meetings and 
resolutions at Nashville. Gen. James Robertson, the now 
aged pioneer, immediately raised a company of old men, 
principally Revolutionary soldiers, styling themselves " Sil- 
ver Grays," and oifered their services to Gen. Jackson. 
The population of this State at that time was composed 
almost wholly of Revolutionary soldiers or their immediate 
descendants, and its soil probably now holds as much of 
this sacred dust as any State in the Union. Even as late 
as the year 1840 there were more than one thousand of 
these pensioners within its limits. These men could not 
believe that the government would hesitate an instant to 
resent such a, wanton outrage on its flag and to exact a swift 
vengeance. Diplomacy smoothed over the great wrong, 
but the insult still burned in the bosoms of the Western 

So when the declaration of actual hostilities reached 
them it brought no sense of alarm, but was hailed merely 
as the hour of ripened vengeance. Although the tender 
of Gen. Jackson was accepted, no call was made for the 
services of Tennessee troops, and the summer wore away 
in suspense and inaction, notwithstanding the disasters to 
the American arms on the Northern lakes. At length the 
government became apprehensive that the success of the 
enemy would induce an invasion of the Southern coast, 
and on October 21st requested Governor Blount to dispatch 
fifteen hundred men to the aid of Gen. Wilkerson, for the 
defense of New Orleans. On the 1st of November the 
Governor issued orders to Gen. Jackson to prepare for the 
movement. On the 14th Gen. Jackson issued an address 
to his division, which he began by saying that he could 
now greet them with the feelings of a soldier. He called 
upon them to remember that they were sons of Revolu- 

tionary sires ; that the theatre upon which they were to act 
possessed for them a peculiar interest. If the mouth of 
the Blississippi was blocked by a hostile force, the fruits of 
their industry would rot on their hands ; open, and our 
commerce goes to all the nations of the earth. To the 
keeping of the Western people was committed the defense 
of the lower Mississippi. 

The requisition being made at a season when the farmers 
were busy gathering their crops and preparing for winter, 
the 10 th of December was set as the time of rendezvous, 
and the place Nashville. However, this proved to be too 
early for the extent of preparation necessary: supplies of 
clothing and food for a long and arduous journey had to be 
procured, and then boats had to be built to transport the 
army down the river. Still, on the day appointed over 
two thousand volunteers presented themselves. Col. John 
CoiFee came with a regiment of cavalry numbering six 
hundred and seventy. Col. William Hall, of Sumner 
County, the hero of Greenfields and other hard conflicts in 
the pioneer period, brought one of the two regiments of 
infantry, and Thomas H. Benton, of Williamson, the " Old 
Bullion" of history, brought the other, together numbering 
fourteen hundred men. Maj. W. B. Lewis was quarter- 
master, Capt. William Carroll, afterwards Governor of the 
State, in.speotor, and John Reid aide and secretary to Gen. 
Jackson. With all the hurry it was the 7th of January 
before the embarkation of the infantry was accomplished, 
and on the same day Col. Coffee set out overland to Natchez. 
Both detachments arrived at Natchez on the 15th of Feb- 
ruary, where they were halted by Gen. Wilkerson to await 
further orders, which came on March 4th, discharging 
them from service. This order Jackson refused to obey 
until proper provision for the pay and subsistence of the 
men during their return march should be made. Finding 
many obstacles thrown in the way of his purpose, he pro- 
vided the means on his own credit, and marched his troops 
through by land, bringing all of his sick to Nashville. 


In the month of September, 1813, the tidings burst upon 
the people of Tennessee of the terrible massacre at Fort 
Mimms on the 30th of August preceding. This was a 
stockade fort on the Tensas Bay, in the soutliern limits of 
the present State of Alabama, at that time known as the 
Blississippi Territory. The causes which led to this un- 
expected uprising of a nation in which the agent of the 
government was then quietly residing, and performing the 
functions of his office without any suspicion of an inter- 
ruption of peaceful relations, may be briefly stated : 

The limits of the Muscogee or Creek Nation at that time 
embraced the region between the Chattahoochee on the east, 
the Tombigbee on the west, the Tennessee on the north, 
and Florida on the south. The title of this tribe to this 
region of country was probably the clearest of any on the 
North American continent, — at any rate the clearest of that 
of any of the Southern tribes. Their claim went back to 
" the time whereof the memory of man runneth not to the 
contrary." All other tribes had a tradition of having come 
from the West or North, but to the Creeks they ascribed a 
spontaneous origin, speaking of them as " coming out of 




the ground." Being brave and numerous, they had never 
been dispossessed by conquest of the more central seats of 
their dominion. The Hickory or " Holy Ground" had 
never been desecrated by the foot of an enemy. But the 
time came when they listened to the voice of a tempter 
and, heedless of the lessons before their eyes, gave them- 
selves up to a delusive dream of conquest which was to end 
in driving the hated white race forever from the American 
continent, and in restoring the land which the Great Spirit 
had given as an inlieritance to his red children. Tecumseh 
came, and ruin followed. This peerless warrior made his 
last visit to the Muscogees on the occasion of the holding 
of the grand council of the tribe in the autumn of ISI'2, 
at which the agent, Col. Hawkins, was assisting as adviser 
and director of their affairs. 

Every day during its session Tecumseh strode into the 
arena with his party from Ohio, naked except as to their 
flaps and ornaments, which latter consisted of buffalo tails 
dependent from their arms and wrists. After a ceremonious 
parade around the circle, he shook each warrior by the 
hand, at the conclusion of which he would announce that 
the sun had gone too far for him to make his talk that 
day, but that he would finish it the nest. However, he 
took care to make no disclosure of his mission until the 
agent, Col. Hawkins, departed to hold a council on the 
Chattahoochee (Flint). 

That night the great round-house was crowded with 
chiefs and warriors eager to hear the purport of Tecumseh's 
" talk," already shadowed forth in a visit during the pre- 
vious year. In a long speech, full of eloquent fiire, he un- 
folded his mission, which was to unite the northern and 
southern tribes, and at a given signal strike a simultaneous 
blow from every available quarter at their old enemies the 
Americans, and drive them into the sea. Their Great 
Father, the English king, had promised him that this 
should be done. Before the night had passed, more than 
half of his audience were ready and burning to begin the 
war. Indeed, to such a height was the spirit of vengeance 
raised that it was with the utmost difficulty that many of 
the warriors could be I'estrained from entering at once on 
the work of destruction, without waiting fur the signal, 
which the prophets declared would be announced by the 
appearance of Tecumseh's hand in the heavens. Tecumseh 
then went from town to town, and before he left the great 
bulk of the Creek nation had entered heart and soul into 
his grand scheme of conquest. The utmost secrecy was 
enjoined, but the proverbial indiscipline of the Indians un- 
masked their hostility to the settlers on the lower Alabama 
in time to put them on their guard, but not to a sufficient 
extent to awaken them to an adequate sense of the real 
danger. In July, 1813, a considerable body of Creek war- 
riors having repaired to Pensacola for promised supplies of 
ammunition from the Spanish and English, a body of set- 
tlers one hundred and eighty in number met them on their 
return at Burnt Corn and attacked them in their bivouac, 
but were defeated, the Indians acting with great bravery. 
The tiger was now thoroughly aroused, and thirsted for the 
blood of his enemy. A force of one thousand warriors 
quickly gathered under William Weatherford, Peter Mc- 
Queen, and the Prophet Francis, and stealthily approached 

the stockade of Samuel Mimnis, on the Tensa Lake, where 
the neighboring settlers had collected under the protection 
of one hundred and seventy volunteers from the Natchez 
country, and seventy militiamen, making in all five hundred 
and fifty-three souls within the enclosure. 

The Indians lay in a ravine four hundred yards from the 
eastern gate until noon of the 30th of August, when, as 
the drum in the fort beat the call to dinner, they dashed 
forward and entered the open gate, which could not be 
closed in time on account of an accumulation of sand in the 
way. The garrison made a brave defense, and were on the 
point of beating off their assailants after a conflict of two 
hours, when Weatherford succeeded in firing the houses, 
which resulted in the total destruction of the fort. An in- 
discriminate and barbarous slaughter of the white women 
and children then took place, not one of whom was left 
alive. A few of the friendly Indians and som(^ of the 
negroes were spared, amounting to less than fifty in all. It 
is to the credit of Weatherford to state that when he saw 
that his victory was assured he exerted himself to stay 
the carnage of the women and children, but his voice and 
influence were unheeded in the raging thirst for blood. 
The cruel victory had a dear atonement, as we shall see. 

The tidings of this terrible outburst of Creek hostility 
reached Governor Blount at Nashville in a dispatch from 
Mr. George S. Gaines. A meeting of citizens was held at 
Nashville on the 18th of September, and was eloquently 
addressed by the Rev. T. B. Craighead, in favor of march- 
ing an army at once into the Indian country for the pro- 
tection of the border settlements and avenging the inhuman 
massacre of defenseless women and children. Fortunately 
the Legislature was on the point of assembling at Nash- 
ville, and when it met an act was passed, on the 25th of 
September, at the recommendation of the Governor, calling 
into the field thirty-five hundred volunteers, in addition to 
the fifteen hundred already in the service, and voting three 
hundred thousand dollars for the immediate wants of the 
troops. Gen. Jackson, though confined to his couch from 
a dreadful wound received a short time before in an affray 
with the Bentons, began the work of organization with 
characteristic energy. The troops were ordered to rendez- 
vous at Fayetteville, Tenn., near the Alabama line, on the 
4th of October, which was only ten days from the passage 
of the act. It was construed by the authorities that the 
volunteers in the Natchez expedition still owed their ser- 
vices to fill out the unexpired term of their twelve months' 
enlistment, which would end on the 10th of December. 
Although they had received a certificate of discharge, they 
collected at the rendezvous, with few exceptions, at the ap- 
pointed time, under the expectation that, as their services 
were called into requisition to meet an extraordinary emer- 
gency, the period of absence would not be long. Few of 
them had time to make arrangements for the gathering of 
their crops, or make provision even for a limited absence 
from home. Many went without a proper supply of winter 
clothing, and all left on the briefest notice, having time 
only to prepare for the most pressing needs of the occasion. 
Jackson, yet unable to mount his horse without assistance, 
started to the rendezvous, but his sufferings were so great 
that he could only reach it on the 7th, but he sent forward 

THE WAR OF 1812-14. 


liis aide, Maj. lleid, to read an order, which began by say- 
ing, "We will commence the campaign by an inviolable 
attention to subordination and discipline." In the mean- 
time Col. CoiFee had been dispatched with his regiment of 
mounted gunmen to Huntsville, Ala., and beyond for the 
protection of the citizens along the Tennessee River. On 
the 11th a dispatch came from that officer to the effect 
that friendly refugee Creeks had come in, and stated that 
one thousand warriors were approaching the river to cross 
and make an attack on Huntsville. Jackson instantly 
issued orders for the march, and at three o'clock p.m. his 
division was on the road, and at eight o'clock p.m. had 
reached Huntsville, at the distance of thirty miles. His 
force consisted of two brigades, one of volunteers, com- 
manded by Gen. William Hall, and the other of militia, 
commanded by Gen. Isaac Roberts, both of whom were 
=-killed in Indian warfare, having been in numerous conflicts 
and expeditions in the pioneer period. 

On arrival at Huntsville the reports of a hostile advance 
were found to be untrue, and the army proceeded more 
leisurely to Ditto's Landing, on the Tennessee River. Here 
Jackson expected supplies by boats from East Tennessee, 
but the low stage of water above had prevented their ar- 
rival, and on the 19th he broke camp and marched up the 
river over a mountainous country, cutting a road as he 
went. He halted at Thompson's Creek, where he erected 
shelter for the reception of the stores when they should 
arrive from above, and named his camp Fort Deposit. His 
supplies were about exhausted before he started for this 
point, and the non-arrival of the expected boats had now 
reduced his army to the greatest straits. Col. Coffee soon 
after came in from a scout with three or four hundred 
bushels of captured corn. At length, having accumulated 
two days' rations of bread and six of beef, he set out for 
the Two Islands of the Coosa on the 25th, whither he had 
been entreated by daily runners to go for the relief of the 
friendly Indians in that vicinity. He arrived in a week 
within a few miles of the place, having to halt frequently 
and scour the country for food. 

Learning on arrival that a considerable body of Creeks 
had assembled at Tullusatches, thirteen miles distant from 
his camp, on tlie south side of the Coosa, Gen. Coffee was 
dispatched with one thousand mounted men to strike them. 
Being piloted by friendly Indians he surrounded the town, 
and after a desperate conflict took it, killing one hundred 
and ninety warriors and captui'ing eighty-four women and 
children ; his own loss was five killed and forty wounded, 
mostly from arrows, which the enemy relied upon after firing 
their guns. 

Maj. -Gen. Cocke was acting in concert with a force from 
East Tennessee, and Gen. White's brigade, of that com- 
mand, having arrived at Turkey Town, twenty-five miles 
distant, the latter was ordered by Gen. Jackson to join him 
for an advance into the Indian country as far as the Talla- 
poosa, where he learned that the enemy were collecting in 
great force. Having strengthened his camp, which he named 
Fort Strother, he set out on the 8th of December for Tal- 
ladega, where a number of friendly Indians had taken ref- 
uge in a fort from a large force of hostile warriors who had 
completely invested the place and cut off every avenue of 

escape. He arrived within six miles of the place at night, 
and sent out scouts to ascertain the numbers and position 
of the enemy. He was here informed that the march of 
Gen. White on Fort Strother had been countermanded by 
Gen. Cocke, which left his sick and wounded at the mercy 
of any hostile party that might discover the weakness of 
the place. He thereupon decided to give battle the next 
morning in order to hasten his return to his defenseless 
camp. At daylight on the 9th the march was resumed, 
and on reaching within a mile of the enemy the army was 
thrown into line of battle, Hull's brigade being on the 
right, and Roberts' on the left. The mounted men were 
divided into three portions, two to occupy the respective 
wings with orders to encircle the enemy, and one posted in 
the rear to act as reserve. The lines then moved forward 
in columns of companies until the advance-guard of four 
companies, among them Capt. Deaderick's company of ar- 
tillery, from Nashville, armed with muskets, reached within 
eighty yards of the concealed enemy, who now rose and, 
opening a hot fire, made a general advance along their lines. 
Several companies of Gen. Roberts' militia, getting alarmed 
at the impetuous rush and yells of the Indians, gave way 
on the first fire, leaving a gap in the lines, which, however, 
was quickly filled by the reserve cavalry under Col. Dyer, 
who advanced with great intrepidity and in turn drove the 
enemy, being assisted by the militia, who now returned to the 
battle. As the enemy began to retreat a general advance 
was made along Jackson's lines, which met the fleeing 
savages at every turn. In a brief time the battle was 
ended. Two hundred and ninety-nine warriors were killed, 
and the destiuction would have been much greater but for 
a gap which was left in the encircling line, through which 
many escaped. Jackson had seventeen killed and eighty- 
three wounded. The joy of the besieged Creeks, who 
knew nothing of Jackson's approach until the battle 
opened, was said to have been indescribable. The army 
started on its return to Camp Strother the next day, and 
on arrival found that the contractors had not only failed 
to bring up provisions, but that the scanty stock left at 
the place for the sick and wounded had been consumed. 
Ten days of starvation at this point brought about such 
a state of discontent that the troops demanded to be 
marched home, or to a point where supplies could bo had. 
The general asked for two days' further delay, and, if 
at the end of that time supplies failed to come, he 
would grant their request. At the appointed time, no 
relief having come, the troops started on their return ; but 
on the second day, a herd of beef cattle having been met, 
the whole body returned to Camp Strother, but not without 
reluctance and an altercation with the general. 

The expiration of the time of enlistment of the volun- 
teers being now close at hand, the general was sounded as 
to whether he would dismiss them honorably from the ser- 
vice and allow them to proceed to their homes. He firmly 
refused their request, and announced his determination to 
hold them five mouths longer, to complete the amount of 
service which under his construction of the law they still 
owed to the government. The announcement of this answer, 
which the men construed in turn to be a direct violation of 
the terms of their enlistment and of their constitutional 



rights, in wliich opinion they were sustained by most of 
their officers, aroused the feelings of the brigade to such a 
pitch that they announced their intention of marching 
home on the expiration of their time, which was on the 
10th of December. On the night of the 9th, Gen. Jackson, 
having learned through the officers that the men were still 
firmly bent on executing their purpose, had them suddenly 
paraded in front of the fort, with the brigade of militia 
stationed to one side, and the artillery in front with lighted 
matches. A violent altercation now ensued between Gen. 
Jackson and Col. William Martin, who commanded one of 
the ofiending regiments. Col. Martin was an old pioneer 
soldier, a man of great personal worth of character, and one 
of the most faithful and vigilant officers in the service, exact- 
ing at all times of his men a rigid compliance with disciplinary 
regulations. The matter ended at length in a temporary 
relinquishment on the part of tlie men of their design to 
march home, but their discontent was so evident, notwith- 
standing the stirring appeals of their general to their patriot- 
ism, that on the arrival of the new regiments, which had 
been raised by Governor Blount for a service of two months, 
Gen. Jackson gave orders for their return home and dis- 
charge, in which the militia brigade was also included, at 
the expiration of its term, January 4th, it having turned 
out with the volunteers at the same short notice, and being 
equally as badly provided for the rigors of a winter cam- 
paign or for a lengthened absence from home. 

In the mean time Col. Carroll and Gen. Roberts liad by 
great exertions gotten up some recruits for a short time to 
go to Gen. Jackson's relief and enable him to hold the 
advanced post of Fort Strother. These amounted to nine 
hundred two months' volunteers under the command of 
Cols. Higgins and Perkins, and were assembled at Strother 
by the 15th of January. Besides, he had two spy com- 
panies (Capts. Gordon's and Russell's), the company of 
artillery from Nashville with one six- pounder, commanded 
by Lieut. Robert Armstrong, a company of volunteer offi- 
cers raised by Gen. Coffee on the disbandment of the lat- 
ter's brigade, and one company of infantry. With a net 
force of nine hundred men, exclusive of friendly Indians, 
he took up the line of march on the 17th for the purpose 
of striking the enemy a blow if possible, but particularly 
to give the raw recruits employment, a matter of vital im- 
portance in circumstances where discontent could be so 
easily fomented. On the 20th he encamped at Enotachopco, 
twelve miles from the mouth of the Emuckfiw, in a bend 
of the Tallapoosa. The next day he resumed his march, 
and by night found himself in the vicinity of a large force 
of the enemy. He encamped in a hollow square to guard 
against a night attack. A little before day the enemy at- 
tacked in heavy force the left wing, wliich held firm until 
daylight, when, being reinforced by Capt. Ferrill's infantry 
company, a charge was made along the entire line, which 
pushed the enemy back with much slaughter for the dis- 
tance of two miles. The friendly Indians joined in the 
pursuit with much ardor. Gen. Cofi"ee was now detached 
with four hundred men to burn their fortification ; but in 
making a reconnoissance he thought it prudent not to make 
the attempt, but to return to camp. In a half-hour after 
his return a fire on the right and rear of Jackson's little 

army showed that Gen. Coffee had acted with wisdom. 
This officer at his request was now dispatched with two 
hundred men to act against the left flank of this force, but 
by mistake only about one-fourth of the number accom- 
panied him. Two hundred friendly Indians were also sent 
to co-operate. At the moment the firing began in this 
quarter a violent attack was made on Jackson's left, for 
which he had made preparation, correctly judging that the 
first attack was intended as a diversion to engage his atten- 
tion. The general repaired to this point in person with 
his reserve, and after four or five volleys had been fired a 
vigorous charge was ordered, which drove the enemy back 
to the distance of a mile. In this pursuit a hand-to-hand 
conflict took place between Lieut. Demoss, of Capt. Pip- 
kins' company, and a large Creek warrior. Each snapped 
his gun at the other, when, these weapons being discarded, 
they drew their knives and clinched in a desperate strug- 
gle ; but the issue was decided by a comrade of Demoss, 
who hastened to his succor and assisted in killing the war- 
rior. Demoss was badly cut by his antagonist, and had to 
be carried to Fort Strother on a litter. On the first alarm 
in this quarter, the friendly Indians instantly quitted Gen. 
Coffee and hastened to this point, thus leaving him to con- 
tend with a greatly superior force which was posted in a 
reedy creek affording many advantages. Coffee, however, 
made a vigorous fight, and was enabled to hold his ground 
until assistance came after the main battle was over, when 
a gallant charge was made and the Indians driven from that 
part of the field with a loss of forty-three killed. 

In this charge Gen. Coffee was wounded, and his aide, Maj. 
Alexander Donelson, and three others were killed. Maj. 
Donelson was a grandson of Col. John Donelson, one of 
the founders of Davidson County, and the commander of 
the emigrants' boats in their marvelous voyage down the 
Tennessee in 1780. He was a young officer of ardent and 
determined bravery, and his death was greatly lamented. 
This ended the battle. The dead having been collected and 
buried, and the wounded attended to, Jackson began his re- 
turn march on the 23d, and encamped that night near 
Enotachopco Creek. The presence of the enemy was un- 
mistakable during the night, and the general became satis- 
fied that he would be attacked the next morning at a ra- 
vine on the route, which he had noted in his advance sev- 
eral days before, the place being admirably suited for an 
ambuscade. He thereupon turned to the right to effect a 
crossing below, where the woods were open. His conjecture 
was correct; the front column had just crossed the creek, 
and also part of the flanking column, with the piece of the 
artillery just entering the descent, when shots were heard 
in the rear, being fired at Samuel Watkins (still surviving 
at the age of eighty-six), who had lagged behind to let his 
hungry horse pick on the cane-leaves. The Indians had 
quit their cover on discovering the manoeuvre of Gen. 
Jackson, and now threw themselves precipitately on his 
rear. The onslaught was so sudden and vigorous that the 
right and left columns of the rear-guard gave way in con- 
fusion, which soon extended to part of the centre column. 
Some of this column remained firm, and with Russell's spy 
company and a part of the artillery company, dispatched to 
hold the ground with their muskets until the piece could 

THE WAR OF 1812-14. 


be brought up, which was soon effected by the exertions 
of Lieut. Armstrong, held the hordes of the enemy in check. 
The gun was pushed up under a galling fire, and quickly 
opened with a discharge of grape. The rammer and picker 
having been left tied to the limber in the hurry of the 
movement. Craven Jackson used the ramrod of his mus- 
ket for a picker, and Constantine Perkins used his gun for 
a rammer. In this way the piece was loaded. A vig- 
orous charge was now made on the Indians by those gath- 
ered at this point, by which they were repulsed. At this 
moment Col. Higgins had led his regiment across the 
creek, and also Capt. John Gordon, an old pioneer hero, 
when a determined advance was made, before which the 
Indians fled, being chased for two miles. In this chase 
Col, Higgins engaged in combat with an Indian and slew 
him with his own hand far in advance of his men. Capt. 
Pipkins, who commanded a company from Davidson County, 
was conspicuous also in the pursuit. The enemy left twenty- 
sis warriors dead on the field. Of the whites who were 
killed were two very brave officers, Capts. Hamilton and 
Quarles. The entire loss in the two engagements was 
twenty-two killed and sixty wounded. 

The army continued its retreat without further inter- 
ruption, and reached Fort Strother on the 26th. 

Reinforcements having shortly arrived from East and 
West Tennessee, the, volunteers were now discharged, and 
preparations made for a decisive blow at the large force of 
Creeks assembled within a strong fortification in the Horse- 
shoe Bend of the Tallapoosa. On the 14th of March 
Jaekson set out on his march with something over three 
thousand militia and a regiment of regular infantry six 
hundred strong. On the 26th he reached the mouth of 
Cedar Creek, where Fort Williams was established. A 
force under Brig.-Gen. Johnson having been left as a 
guard for this post, he set out on the 24th, by way of 
Emuokfaw, for the Tallapoosa Bend, near which were 
situated the Oakfuskee villages. The Indian name of the 
bend was Tohopoka or the Horseshoe. This peninsula con- 
tained about one hundred acres, and the isthmus, which was 
about three hundred and fifty yards across, had been forti- 
fied with unusual care, with a high breastwork of logs, in 
which were two rows of port-holes: Behind this fortifica- 
tion were nine hundred Creek warriors, and at the village 
in the rear over three hundred women and children. The 
river-bank at the farther point of the bend was lined with 
canoes, to favor escape in case of disaster. The interior of 
the space was covered with brusli, trees, and ravines, ad- 
mirably adapted for defense. 

Jackson arrived on the 27th of March before the place, 
and saw at once his opportunity of surrounding the enemy 
and destroying the whole force. He, therefore, dispatched 
Gen. Coffee with his mounted brigade to the right to cross 
the river below and cut off escape in that quarter. At half- 
past ten the artillery — a three- and a six-pounder — was 
brought to bear on the works at a distance of eighty yards 
and fired for two hours without any other effect than to 
provoke derisive cheers from the besieged warriors. 

At this juncture Gen. Coffee detached Col. Morgan with 
Russell's spy company to cross the river in some eanoes 
which had been procured by volunteer swimmers. This 

detachment quickly set fire to the Indian village near the 
bank and opened fire on such warriors as were in sight. 
This diversion being discovered by the troops at the front, 
these were now ordered to charge; a desperate contest en- 
sued for the possession of the works, in which Maj. Mont- 
gomery of the Thirty-ninth Regulars lost his life as he 
mounted the parapet. The assault was at length successful, 
and the Indians took refuge behind trees and logs to the 
rear, whence they waged an obstinate conflict, but they 
were gradually driven from this shelter, when they sought 
to make their escape in canoes. Finding retreat out off in 
this direction, many of them took shelter in the deep ravine 
and under the river-bank, where in the course of the day 
they were destroyed, disdaining to the last to surrender. 
Only about twenty escaped by swimming and diving. 
Four surrendered, and about three hundred women and 
children were taken prisoners. Jackson's loss was fifty-five 
killed and one hundred and forty-six wounded, of whom 
quite one-half were friendly Indians. Jackson sunk his 
dead in the river to prevent them being scalped by the 
enemy after his departure, and returned to Fort Williams. 
On the 7th of April he again set out on his march, and 
reached the Holy Ground of the Creeks, at the junction of 
the Tallapoosa and the Coosa, without bringing the Indians 
to another engagement. Here the chiefs of the hostile 
party began to arrive in his camp and make professions of 
submission, among them Weatherford, the leader of the 
attack on Fort Mirams. Tiiis brave chief, in tendering his 
submission, said, "I am in your power; do with me as 
you please. I am a soldier. I have done the white people 
all the harm I could ; I have fought them, and have fought 
them bravely. If I had an army I would yet fight, and 
contend to the last ; but I have none, — my people are all 
gone. I can now do no more than weep over the misfor- 
tunes of my nation." Tliese professions proved sincere as 
to the great body of these people ; a certain part took refuge 
with the English and Spaniards at Pensacola, and continued 
in a state of hostility. 

The war being virtually over, those troops whose term of 
service was nearly out were now discharged, the artillery 
company from Nashville among the rest, and on the 21st 
of April they started on their return home. Capt. Ham- 
mond's spy company from Davidson was retained to do 
duty at Fort Deposit. 

Gen. Jackson being anxious to make sure of the fruits 
of his important victories, now sought to make the Spanish 
Governor of Pensacola a party, as it were, to the treaty 
with the Indians, so as to hold him to a stricter respon- 
sibility for his future conduct. But to reach him it was 
necessary for the bearer of his messages to traverse a long 
stretch of tropical wilderness, unmarked by road or path, 
and rendered doubly difiicult of penetration by reason of 
numerous swamps, lagoons, and rivers. The bearer of the 
dispatches was Capt. John Gordon, of Davidson County, 
who, with a single companion, undertook the dangerous 
and seemingly desperate mission. At the end of the first 
day's journey the companion of Capt. Gordon became so 
much appalled by the prospects ahead that the captain drove 
him back and continued his mission alone. After many 
difficulties and dangers from hostile Creeks, he reached 



Pensacola. On his arrival ho was surrounded by a large 
body of Indians, and it was only by the greatest presence 
of mind that he escaped instant death and reached the 
protection of the commandant. His mission being ended, 
he returned as he came, and reached Gen. Jackson in 

The designs of the British against the Gulf coast having 
been made known to Gen. Jackson, he urged at once on 
the neighboring Governors to hasten forward their levies. 
The call having been made on the 9th of September, the 
quota of Tennessee was soon full, many paying for the priv- 
ilege of places in the draft. About the 1st of October 
these troops, under Gen. Coffee, set out from the rendez- 
vous to join Gen. Jackson at Mobile. The attack on Fort 
Bowyer, at the entrance of Mobile Bay, on September 10th, 
by a British fleet of ninety guns and a combined land force 
of Spaniards and Indians, was but the precursor of greater 
events, and tlie development of the design of the grand 
invasion of the lower Mississippi region. The attack failed 
and the enemy's ships, with blood-stained decks, cockpits 
lull of dead and wounded, and shattered hulls were scarce 
able to reach the shelter of Pensacola, whence they had 
rallied. Jackson now saw that the defense of New Orleans 
could not be successfully maintained until Pensacola was 
reduced. Gen. Coffee having reached the vicinity of Fort 
St. Stephens, he repaired there on the 26th of October 
and began preparations for an expedition against that 
point. Coffee's men, being mounted, cheerfully abandoned 
their horses, on account of the difficulty of procuring 
forage, and marched on foot. Besides these were some 
regulars and a few Indians, the whole force amounting in 
all to about three thousand men. The march began on 
November 2d, and the neighborhood of Pensacola was 
reached on the 6th. The news of Jackson's approach 
having been received at the place, it was in a state of 
preparation for an active defense. 

Jackson, feeling the nature of the responsibility he was 
incurring ih proceeding against a neutral power with which 
the United States were at peace, dispatched a flag to 
demand of the Spanish Governor the possession of the forts, 
in which a United States garrison should be placed to insure 
the preservation of neutrality from violation by the forces 
of Great Britain, then at war with his country. The flag 
was fired upon and forced to return. However, the 
American commander was anxious to make another effort at 
negotiation, and he sent a letter by a Spanish corporal who 
had been captured the day before. The Governor now re- 
plied that the outrage of the flag was committed by the 
British, and that he would be glad to hear any overtures 
that might be made. Jackson therefore dispatched the 
same ofiicer with a communication in which he demanded 
possession of the forts within an hour. To this a decided 
refusal was returned. It being important to avoid the fire 
of the British fleet in the bay, Jackson sent forward a body 
of five hundred men to occupy the attention of the enemy, 
while the greater force was carried to a point whence it 
could i.ssue against the forts under the cover of the houses. 
The manoeuvre was eminently successful. The troops 
stormed the field-guns of the Spaniards posted in the street, 
and took them at the point of the bayonet, seeing which 

the intendant, fearing Jackson's vengeance, rushed from 
his quarter's with a white flag and submitted to his fate, 
which was 'the rendition of the various forts under his 
command. However, Spanish resentment and treachery in 
giving up Fort St. Michel came near provoking an indis- 
criminate slaugliter of its garrison. During those transac- 
tions the British men-of-war kept up an active cannonade 
on the Americans, but were finally driven off by the fire of 
the light batteries ranged along the beach. Fort Barrancos 
was fourteen miles to the west, and preparations had been 
made for receiving its surrender the next day, but during 
the night it was blown up, and the British fleet retired from 
the bay. Jackson held the town two days, and then aban- 
doned it, hastening to Mobile, whither the fleet seemed to 
be bearing. The danger having blown over in this quarter, 
he left for New Orleans on the 22d of November, where he 
arrived the 1st of December. The troops under Gen. Coffee 
marched across the country, striking the Mississippi at the 
present site of Port Hudson. This journey is memorable for 
the hardships endured. It rained constantly, and the march 
lay through an uninhabited pine forest, intersected by 
numerous cypress swamps. Many of the horses succumbed 
to toil and hunger, while the backs of the survivors were 
stripped of hair, owing to the constant drenching of their 
bodies with water. 

On the 17th of December he received orders from Gen. 
Jackson to hasten his march. Starting on the 18th, he ac- 
complished one hundred and fifty miles in two days, reaching 
within fifteen miles of New Orleans on the night of the 19th. 
In the mean time two thousand five hundred Tennessee mili- 
tia had embarked at Nashville on the 19th of November, 
under Maj.-Gen. Carroll, and were hastening in boats down 
the Mississippi to New Orleans, which they reached on De- 
cember 21st. Gen. Jackson had been making superhuman 
exertions for the defense of the place, but his preparations 
were far from complete when it was announced that the 
British army had come through Bayou Bienvenue and es- 
tablished itself on the Mississippi at Gen. Villery's planta- 
tion. He received these tidings about noon of the 23d of 
December, and resolved on a movement which virtually de- 
cided the fate of the invading army. Gens. Carroll and 
Coffee from above the city were ordered to join liim at once, 
and in two hours those active and experienced officers had 
arrived at his headquarters with their respective commands. 
Here it was decided to detach Carroll's division to guard 
the Gentilly road, leading from Chef Menteur to the city, 
in case of a hostile movement from that quarter. With 
Coffee's brigade, the 7th and 44th regulars, the Louisiana 
battalions, and Col. Hind's Mississippi dragoons, Jackson 
arrived in presence of the enemy a little before dark. He 
immediately made his dispositions for the attack. Coffee 
being ordered to bear to the left and gain the rear of the 
British right wing, which extended out into the plain at 
rioht angles to the river, on which their left rested. The 
remainder of his forces were held to strike in the front at a 
signal from the " Caroline," an armed schooner, which had 
orders to drop down the river to a point opposite the 
enemy's camp, and open with grape-shot. Coffee, having 
farther to go than the rest, was unable to get in position be- 
fore the signal-guns from the " Caroline" announced that the 



battle was opened ; but his brave fellows immediately dis- 
mounted, and turning their horses loose stripped for the fight, 
and advanced in the direction of the British camp. Tliey 
had proceeded but a short distance in the darkness before 
they received an unexpected fire from a line of the enemy 
which had taken refuge in that quarter from the guns of 
the " Caroline." Coffee ordered his men to press forward 
in a line, and only fire when close enough to distinguish the 
enemy's line with certainty. This was done, and such a 
destructive volley was opened at short range that the Brit- 
ish were driven back ; but they soon reformed, to be again 
forced back by the steady advance of the Tennesseeans, until 
they reached an orange-grove, along which ran a ditch, 
where they halted in full confidence of maintaining their 
position. From this, however, they were driven, to the 
mortification of the British officers, and in a short time from 
another position of similar nature, whence they retreated to 
the bank of the river, where, by great exertions, they were 
enabled to withstand further assaults for a half-hour, but at 
length they were forced to take refuge behind the remains 
of an old levee, which afforded security from the fire of the 
American rifles. 

In the mean time the battle on the right wing had been 
pushed by Gen. Jackson in person, and the enemy driven 
nearly a mile from successive positions. In the last charge 
made by Coffee, Cols. Dyer and Gibson, with about two 
hundred men and Capt. Beal's company of riflemen, be- 
came separated from the rest of the brigade, and unex- 
pectedly found themselves in the presence of a line which 
they took for their own. On being hailed their officers 
rode forward and announced that they belonged to Coffee's 
brigade, when, discovering that it was a line of the enemy, 
they wheeled to retire. Col. Gibson fell over some obstacle, 
and before he could rise was pinioned to the ground by the 
bayonet of an adversary who sprang forward upon him. 
Fortunately the bayonet inflicted only a slight wound, and 
held him only by his clothing. With a violent effort he 
regained his feet, and knocking his enemy down made his 
escape. Col. Dyer's horse was killed by the fire of the 
enemy before going fifty yards, and himself slightly wounded 
and entangled in the fall. He called out to his men to fire, 
which arrested the advance of the enemy, and enabled him 
to make good his retreat. Capt. John Donelson, who com- 
manded a company from Davidson County, during the 
confusion of this movement, discovered a line advancing in 
his rear, and on hailing it was answered that it was " Cof- 
fee's brigade." This line advanced rapidly with their guns 
at a "ready" until within a few paces, when it fiercely 
ordered the " d d Yankees" to surrender. Capt. Don- 
elson instantly ordered his company to fire, but the 
British line being prepared delivered the first volley, by 
which three of his men were killed and several wounded. 
Donelson had no thought of surrendering, but ordered his 
men to charge and cut their way through. In this des- 
perate attempt he not only succeeded, but brought off 
Maj. Mitchell of the Ninety-second Royal Foot a prisoner 
of war, taking him with his own hands. He, however, lost 
some prisoners. 

The success of this first battle had answered Jackson's 
anticipations, but burning to make it complete, he ordered 

Carroll's Tennessee division to report to^ him for an attack 
on the British lines at daylight. This design, however, 
was relinquished in favor of one of greater safety, and the 
troops were ordered to form on the Rodriguez Canal and 
fortify in haste. The events that followed, culminating in 
the battle of the 8th of January, are too familiar to need 
repetition in this place. From the date of their landing 
the invaders were put on the defensive day after day. 
Caution on their part took the place of enterprise, and 
when they advanced, seventeen days after their landing, it 
was but to slaughter and repulse from a line of fortifications 
which had sprung into existence in this interval. In the 
final battle the brunt of the attack fell upon the division of 
Gen. Carroll and the brigade of Gen. Coff'ee, which occu- 
pied the left wing of Jackson's line. Coff'ee was on the ex- 
treme left, and Carroll next, supported by the Kentuokians 
under Gen. Adair. The centre of Carroll's division was 
selected for the attack by the British commander on the 
information of a deserter from the American lines, who re- 
ported this as the weakest point on account of being occu- 
pied by " militia." The British advance was made in 
column, with a front of about seventy men, and hence the 
terrible destruction of life when, failing to carry the works, 
it had to retire across an open plain under a deliberate fire 
of rifles and cannon from many quarters. 

In this battle, as in all of the events which have been 
related so briefly in connection with the history of this 
period, the sons of Davidson County bore a conspicuous 
and leading part. Her fame is indelibly linked with the 
immortal name of Jackson, while she borrows additional 
lustre from those of Carroll, Coff'ee, and thousands of others 
who occupied subordinate relations to their great chief, but 
in their spheres sustained the glory and prestige of the 
pioneer period. 



Influence of the Creeks with the Scmiuoles— First Seminole Wiir— 
Gen. .Tackson ordered to command the Campaign— He Seizes the 
Spanish Fort of St. Mark's— His Decisive Measures— Second Sem- 
inole War — Tennessee Troops — The Davidson " Highlanders" — 
"State Guards." 

Notwithstanding their terrible defeat at the Horse- 
shoe in 1814, many of the Creeks still remained implacable, 
and sought safety in the neutral Spanish territory of Flor- 
ida, where they were taken into the service of Great Brit- 
ain. By the treaty of Ghent, which concluded the war 
between the United States and Great Britain, it was stipu- 
lated that the former power was to restore to the Indian 
tribes with which it was at war at the time of the ratifica- 
tion of this treaty all the possessions and rights that said 
tribes were entitled to in the year 1811. Peace had been 
made with the Creek nation many months before the ratifi- 
cation, but this government construed that the terms did 
not apply to them, and erected forts and permitted settle- 
ments to be made quite down to the Spanish boundary. 
The hostile Creeks, on the other hand, claimed that they 



had not been a party to the treaty by which their lands 
were ceded, and that they had remained in a state of hostil- 
ity. The Seminoles, with whom they had become assimi- 
lated, also claimed certain boundaries on which the Geor- 
gians were making settlements. Individual acts of murder 
and rapine on either side led at length to an open rupture 
with the United States in the latter part of the year 1817. 
On the 21st of November of this year, Col. Twiggs, in 
command at Fort Scott, sent a body of troops to Fowltowu, 
a Seminole village twelve miles east of the fort, to demand 
of the chief the surrender of some of his warriors who 
had been committing murder upon the Georgia settlers. 
The troops were fired upon as they approached the village, 
before time was had for a parley ajid statement of their 
mission. The fire was returned, by which two warriors 
and a woman were killed. The town was captured, and 
after a few days was burnt by order of Gen. Gaines. This 
act kindled into flame at once a bloody and devastating 
war. The government having obtained the right of passage 
up the Appalachicola for the better supplying of the forts 
in this quarter, an opportunity was soon aiforded the Semi- 
noles of wreaking a terrible revenge for their late injury. 
On the 30th of this month, as Lieut. Scott was proceeding 
up this river in a large boat, containing forty soldiers of 
the Seventh Infantry, seven soldiers' wives, and four little 
children, a sudden fire was poured into the party from the 
bank, killing and wounding nearly every person on board at 
the first volley. The Indians then rose from their conceal- 
ment and, getting possession of the boat, began an indis- 
criminate massacre. Four men leaped overboard at the 
first fire and swam to the other bank, two of whom only 
reached it uninjured and got into Fort Scott in safety. One 
woman, who was uninjured by the volley, was bound and 
carried ofi'. 

The Prophet Francis, one of the leaders in the Fort 
Mimms massacre and a refugee from his nation since their 
defeat four years before, soon appeared in the field at the 
head of the warriors of his tribe who, like himself, had 
refused to acquiesce in the results of that war. Having 
captured a Georgia militiaman, he doomed him to the stake, 
but his daughter, Milly Francis, a girl of fifteen years, 
being moved to pit}' at the fearful spectacle about to be 
enacted, fell upon her knees before her father and begged 
the prisoner's life. The fierce chief at length relented 
and granted her prayer. The prisoner was given up to 
the Spanish commandant for safe-keeping, and by this 
means regained his liberty. 

The news of hostilities having reached the government. 
Gen. Jackson was ordered to proceed to the South and 
conduct the war, Gen. Gaines being absent at the time, 
engaged in ousting a band of filibusters who had taken 
possession of Amelia Island, on the Florida coast, for the 
purpose of overthrowing Spanish rule in this province. 
Gen. Jackson, being directed by the Secretary of War, Mr. 
Calhoun, to call upon the " adjacent States" for any addi- 
tional troops he might need, decided to construe the order 
to mean Tennessee as an adjacent State, in order to get the 
services of his veterans of the war of 1812. Two regi- 
ments of over a thousand mounted men assembled at Fay- 
etteville on his call, and were ready to march in twenty 

days after the Secretary's dispatch came. These were com- 
manded by Cols. Dyer and Williamson. A company of 
over one hundred men, under the command of Capt. A. 
Dunlap, went from Nashville as his life-guard. 

Profiting by experience. Gen. Jackson ordered supplies to 
be sent from New Orleans to Fort Scott, and on the 22d of 
January set out from Nashville on horseback to reach his 
destination, four hundred and fifty miles distant. On the 
9th of March he reached Fort Scott, where he was soon 
after joined by Cols. Williamson and Dyer, commanding the 
two Tennessee regiments. About two thousand friendly 
Creek Indians came also to war upon the Seminoles and 
their own kindred. The campaign was brief and unmarked 
by a determined battle upon the part of the hostile warriors, 
who fled to the security of swamps where it was useless to 
attempt to follow them. Gen. Jackson set out from Fort 
Gadsden on the 26th of March for St. Mark's, in the 
Spanish province of Florida, where he had arranged with 
Capt. McKeever, of the navy, to meet him with the gun- 
boats and transports. With his long experience of Spanish 
influence and intrigue in the affairs of the adjacent Indian 
tribes, he had doterniincd on the grave responsibility of an 
invasion of the territory of a neutral power with his usual 
firmness and decision. He had two objects in view by this 
step, — to strike the enemy in his stronghold whence issued 
the raids on the whites, and to seize and hold the Spanish 
fort at St. Mark's, and garrison it vcilh his troops as security 
against the outrages which the representatives of his Cath- 
olic Majesty acknowledged themselves as powerless to pre- 
vent. On his way he had an affair on the 1st of April, in 
which he lost one man killed and four wounded, and killed 
fourteen Indians and captured and burnt their town, in the 
square of which were found over fifty fresh scalps hanging 
from a red pole erected at the council-house. King Hajah's 
town was also destroyed en route, and one thousand head 
of cattle and three thousand bushels of corn taken. 

St. Mark's was reached on the 6th, and the Governor 
having stated his want of authority to enter into an agree- 
ment by which an American garrison would take possession 
of a fort belonging to his Catholic Majesty, and asked for 
a suspension of operations until he could get proper in- 
structions, Jack.son entered on the 7th, and lowering the 
Spanish colors, hoisted the American flag in their place. 
This was accomplished without any resistance further than 
a formal protest from the Governor. In the fort was found 
Alexander Arbuthnot, a Scotchman and Indian trader, 
who had allowed his " philanthropy" and zeal to right the 
wrongs of the red man to betray him into undoubted acts 
of hostility against the United States, and he was ordered 
into confinement. Before Jackson's arrival McKeever's 
fleet had appeared in the lower bay, and on displaying the 
English colors the Prophet Francis and his next chief, 
Himmolemmico, came aboard in full anticipation of finding 
some expected military stores from his friends in England 
for the prosecution of the war. They were seized and 
bound, and on arrival of the fleet at anchor, Jackson, mind- 
ful of Fort Mimms and their present purposes, ordered them 
to be hung, which sentence was executed the next day. 
The fate of this brave prophet-chief was greatly deplored 
even in America, but especially in England, where he had 



made a favorable impression when on a visit after the con- 
clusion of the late war. 

After two days' stay at St. Mark's, Jackson set out for 
Suwanee, one hundred and seven miles distant. This was 
the stronghold of the great chief Boleck or Bowlegs, and 
the refuge of runaway negroes. The march was through 
swamps a great part of the way, the troops having often to 
wade for hours through water waist-deep. The Indians, 
however, got warning in time to escape without much loss 
of life. This was a large town, extending for three miles 
along the Suwanee, and was burned to the ground. During 
the stay here Kobert C. Ambrister, an Englishman and 
nephew of the British Governor of New Providence, came 
incautiously into the American camp, and was taken pris- 
oner. He had been an officer of the British army, but in 
consequence of a duel had been suspended from his rank, 
and while waiting tlie expiration of his sentence his love of 
adventure and his military tastes had led him to embark in 
the cause of exciting the Florida Indians to acts of hos- 
tility against the United States, then at peace with his 

This expedition virtually ended the war, and on the 26th 
Gen. Jackson was again back at St. Mark's. A court-martial 
was at once convened for the trial of Arbuthnot and Am- 
brister, and at the end of two days the verdict was returned 
that Ambrister should be shot and Arbuthnot executed on 
the gallows. The finding and sentence of the court were 
submitted to the commanding general as he was leaving for 
Pensacola with his army, and being approved, the execu- 
tion of the prisoners took place the following day. This 
execution created a tremendous sensation in England, and 
but for tlie firmness of the British ministry would have in- 
volved the two countries in immediate war. Jackson now 
returned to Fort Gadsen, which had been erected by him 
on the ruins of the Negro Fort. This fort had been built 
and strongly armed by Co!. Nichols, a British officer, who 
had figured in the war of 1812 on the southern coast as 
friend, patron, and commandant of the hostile Indians in 
that quarter. He remained several years after the cessation 
of hostilities actively engaged in the interests of these In- 
dians, but with what ultimate design is unknown to the 
historian. .He finally departed for England, leaving his 
stronghold, which was on a bluff of the Appalachioola, 
seventeen miles from the coast, defended by ten or twelve 
pieces of artillery and a large store of warlike munitions, 
including over seven hundred barrels of powder. The In- 
dians not being suited by nature or habit for garrison duty, 
the care of the fort was neglected, when it was seized by 
several hundred free and runaway negroes, under one 
Gargon, in 1816, and held against all comers. They soon 
attacked some boats going up with supplies for Gen. Gaines, 
at Fort Scott, which determined the latter to destroy the 
place at once. He surrounded it with a detachment of sol- 
diers and Seminole Indians, who claimed the guardianship 
of it in Col. Nichols' absence, but was unable to make any 
impression on its skillfully-fortified walls. In the mean time 
he had ordered a gunboat under Sailing-Master Loomis to 
work up the river and co-operate. Loomis finally reached 
his position and opened fire, which at first proved futile ; 
but having heated some solid shot to redness, a gun was 

trained to drop a ball within the inelosure. It was aimed 
with deadly precision, and alighted in the magazine ;^an ex- 
plosion followed which shook the earth for a hundred miles. 
Of the three hundred and thirty four inmates of the fort 
only three crawled from the ruins unhurt, and one of these 
was Gargon, the negro commander. Two hundred and 
seventy were killed instantly, and most of the others 
perished soon after of their injuries. 

Jackson rested at this point a few days, when he started 
westward with a detachment of regulars and six hundred 
Tennesseeans to scour the country in that direction. He 
had proceeded but a short distance when he was informed 
that a large body of hostile Indians, who harbored at Pen- 
sacola, had recently massacred a number of the Alabama 
settlers. This was enough ; he instantly turned his march 
in the direction of the hated place, and Pensacola was again 
doomed to submit in humiliation to the presence and occu- 
pation of an American army. The Governor protested and 
then tried force, but Jackson brought his guns to bear 
actively on Fort Barrancos and got ready his scaling-lad- 
ders to storm the place, when it was surrendered. An 
American garrison replaced the Spanish occupants, and the 
place was held subject to the action of the United States 
government. As said before, the acts of Gen. Jackson in 
this campaign created a tremendous sensation abroad, and 
involved him at home in conflicts with prominent political 
leaders, which only ended with the death of the parties 
concerned ; but he was backed by the general approbation 
of the country, and came out triumphant over all opposi- 


By the treaty of Sept. 18, 1823, at Moultrie Creek, in 
the Territory of Florida, the Seminoles were put on a re- 
servation, of sufficiently large extent, the boundaries of 
which, however, were not to approach the coast nearer than 
fifteen miles. If these bounds were found on survey not 
sufficiently large to include the necessary farming lands, 
they were to be extended to a stated line farther north. 
For tlie cession of the rest of their lands they were to 
receive five thousand dollars a year for twenty years. Six 
of the leading chiefs having shown great reluctance to give 
up their settlements under the stipulations, new reservations 
were allowed outside of the general reservation to suit these 
special cases. The hummock-lands of Florida, being equal 
in fertility to any in the United States, were quickly appro- 
priated by white settlers, who in many instances sternly 
ordered off, rifle in hand, any wandering Indian who hap- 
pened to be found north of the imaginary line that was 
intended to keep the two races asunder and preserve them 
in a state of amity. For some years the agents had their 
hands full settling disputes and keeping down an open out- 
break of war between them. 

The complaints of mutual and flagrant aggression grew so 
frequent that the state of affairs in the years 1829 and 1830 
was very critical indeed, and likely to end at any moment in 
a devastating onslaught upon the white settlements. Then 
came up the question of the removal of those Indians, as 
had been done with many other tribes, to the Indian Ter- 
ritory west of the Mississippi, as the quickest and most 
economical solution of a difficulty that was growing in 



gravity every year. The frontier settlers, wlio were anx- 
ious to obtain the valuable lands included in the reserva- 
tion, or solicitous to hold peaceable possession of those 
already taken, pressed this question of removal upon the 
authorities, alleging that their slaves, cattle, and other prop- 
erty were daily stolen, and that there could be no peace 
possible under the circumstances. Indeed, this was the 
only wise course left, and the government directed Col. 
Gadsen to endeavor to engage the Seminoles to relinquish 
their lands in exchange for good lands in the Creek nation. 
On this wish being made known, great opposition was 
manifested, and it was with great difficulty that Col. Gad- 
sen succeeded in getting a council of chiefs at Payne's 
Landing. Here, after many vexatious delays, such a treaty 
was at length concluded on the 9th of May, 1832. One 
provision of this treaty was that the new country was to 
be visited by a delegation of chiefs and examined, and if 
their report was favorable and the Creeks should express 
a willingness to receive and reunite with them, the ex- 
change would be made and the migration completed by the 
end of the year 1835. The delegation was sent at the ex- 
pense of the government, but the visit being made in the 
midst of winter, when the country looked drear and unin- 
viting, and the antipodes of their verdant landscape in 
Florida at this season, the result was not satisfactory. Still 
they were induced to sign a favorable report, which thereby 
bound their nation irrevocably to a removal. In the mean 
time an opposition party had been formed, headed by the 
youthful Osceola, who was the animating spirit, but void of 
a voice in the councils of the nation at this time on ac- 
count of the obscurity of his station and want of heredi- 
tary authority as a chief His mother was a Creek, and 
became a Seminole by leaving her tribe and taking refuge 
among these people, the word Seminole meaning runaway. 
The term thus derisively applied became at length generic. 

The hostility soon became so formidable that the offend- 
ing chiefs either disclaimed their signatures to the late 
agreement or denied a true knowledge of it« nature. The 
government, being thoroughly persuaded that the only solu- 
tion of the question was in removal soon or late, insisted 
on the performance of the contract, and made due prepara- 
tions to carry through its part of the business, notwith- 
standing the evident determination of the great majority 
of these people to the contrary. As the time approached, 
the love of home and native soil grew so strong in the 
breasts of the Seminoles that they determined to die to a 
man rather than submit to the expatriation. Still the gov- 
ernment disregarded their threats and continued its prep- 
arations for their removal. By dissembling their feelings 
and making show occasionally of compliance, the Indians 
were enabled to purchase extra supplies of ammunition, 
ostensibly for use in their new hunting-grouuds. Even 
Osceola seemed to grow penitent, although he had been 
ironed and incarcerated at Fort King for six days for vio- 
lent and abusive language to the agent, Gen. Thompson. 

All things being in readiness for the rising, Osceola 
repaired with a band of warriors to the vicinity of Fort 
King, determined to execute his vengeance on the man who 
had shackled his free limbs with chains a short while 
before. He lay concealed in a hummock near by for two 

days before the opportunity came of gratifying his revenge, 
the strongest and most enduring feeling of Indian nature. 
On the afternoon of the 28th of December, Gen. Thomp- 
son, while taking a walk in company with Lieut. Constantine 
Smith, of the Second Artillery, came in short range of his 
ambush, and fell pierced with twenty four balls, Lieut. 
Smith receiving thirteen. The assassins then rushed for- 
ward in eager emulation for the first trophy of their long- 
anticipated and now unsmothered revenge. The scalps of 
the victims were cut into small pieces for distribution to 
gratify the feelings of all the participants. On the same 
day Maj. Dade, on his way to Fort King with two com- 
panies of regulars, amounting to one hundred and eight 
officers and men, was waylaid near the Wahoo Swamp, and 
his entire command destroyed after an obstinate resistance, 
with the exception of two privates, who escaped badly 
wounded and bore the intelligence to Fort Brooke. 

Thus began a war which for seven successive years filled 
Florida with rapine and blood, and cost the government 
nineteen million four hundred and eighty thousand dollars, 
exclusive of the expense pertaining to the regular army. 
Owing to the scattered condition of its regular forces, the 
government was compelled to call upon the neighboring 
States for volunteers. Tennessee promptly furnished three 
regiments of mounted volunteers, which gathered at the old 
rendezvous, Fayetteville. Of these the First and Second 
llegimeuts were received into the service, and the Third 
discharged. In the Second Regiment were three companies 
raised wholly or in part from Davidson, — namely, the 
" Highlanders," commanded successively by Capts. Wil- 
liam Washington and John J. Chandler ; the " State 
Guards," by James Grundy and Joseph Leake successively ; 
and a company from Davidson and Williamson Counties, 
commanded by Capt. Joel A. Battle. At the organization 
of tlie regiment William Trousdale was elected colonel, 
J. C. Guild lieutenant-colonel, Joseph Meadows 1st major, 
William Washington (captain of the Highlanders) 2d major. 
The two regiments were formed into a brigade, to the com- 
mand of which the President appointed Brig-Gen. Robert 
Armstrong, of Nashville, one of the heroes of Enotochapco. 
The men were enlisted to serve for six months. The 
brigade marched from their rendezvous on the 4th of July 
direct for Columbus, Ga., but were detained several weeks on 
the Tallapoosa, which they crossed by swimming to awe 
into submission a large body of Creek Indians, then col- 
lected for emigration across the Mississippi. Some of 
these Indians were largely in debt to traders, who instigated 
them to remain in order to made collections. It was feared 
also that they in their irritated state would catch the spirit 
of hostility then prevailing in Florida. In consequence of 
this diversion the Secretary of War ordered the brigade 
not to enter the sickly region of Florida in the midst of 
the hot season. Therefore it was about the middle of Sep- 
tember before the Tennessee troops reached Tallahassee. 
From this point they soon started for the Indian country. 
On reaching Suwanee they found the yellow fever prevail- 
ing, and during their brief stay a number were attacked 
with the disease and died. From this point they marched 
south sixty miles to Fort Drane, where on arrival they 
broke up a large encampment of Indians without being 



able to bring them to an eDgageinont. This body votrcated 
to the cove in the folks of the Withlacooehee, wliitlier Gen. 
Armstrong, reinforced by some regulars and two pieces 
of artillery, took up the line of march on October 10th. 
On the 12th an encampment of about fifty Indians was 
attacked, and seven were killed, and eleven squaws and 
children captured. It was here ascertained that a large 
body of the enemy with women and children occupied the 
forks of the Withlacooehee, while another large force was 
below to dispute the passage of the river. Gen. Arm- 
strong marched with the main body to the latter point, 
while Lieut.-Col. J. C. Guild was ordered to take a detach- 
ment of four hundred volunteers and move upon the enemy 
in the cove. 

The route lay through dense hummoeks along the river, 
and one of the captured squaws was taken along for a guide. 
As Col. Guild's detachment approached the fork and reached 
a deep muddy creek, a heavy fire was opened from the op- 
posite bank at the head of the column, by which the friendly 
chief, Capt. Billy, was killed at the side of the commander. 
The command was ordered to dismount and open fire along 
the stream; an action of a half-hour ensued. Maj. Golf, 
of the First Tennessee, was ordered to take two hundred men 
and go up the stream and endeavor to effect a passage, which, 
if successful, would be followed by the entire command. 
He returned in a short time with the information that the 
stream was too deep for fording. In the mean time a vigor- 
ous fire had been kept up to cover the crossing, which was 
continued until the enemy retired. Col. Guild lost four 
men killed and about twenty wounded. The main body, 
under Gen. Armstrong, found the river too deep to ford 
under the hot fire of the enemy, and returned to camp. 
On the 22d, Col. Trousdale crossed the river, which had 
fallen at this point, with his regiment, and entered the cove. 
Two large towns were found and destroyed, the warriors 
having made their escape. From an old negro who was 
captured it was ascertained that the Indians had gone to 
Wahoo Swamp, which was in the vicinity of the Dade 
massacre. He also stated that in Guild's battle twenty- 
eight Indians and five negroes were killed, and in Maj. 
Gordon's affair under Gen. Armstrong, on the 13th, nine- 
teen were killed. 

The provisions having given out, and nearly all of the 
horses having succumbed to hunger and fatigue, it was 
determined in council to march to the mouth of the With- 
lacooehee, where a depot was to be established. On the 
25tli wagons wore met with supplies, when the march was 
turned to Fort Drane. Getting reinforcements, the First 
and Second Tennessee regiments moved up the north side 
of the Withlacooehee, and the regulars and friendly Indians 
on the south side. On the 17th a short skirmish took 
place, in which eighteen Indians were killed, and the whites 
had one man killed and ten wounded. On the 18th the 
large number of fresh trails indicated that there was a large 
force of the enemy in the vicinity, and on approaching the 
town of Nickanopa, which was discovered to be on fire, a 
heavy volley was poured into the Second Tennessee as it 
advanced with the rest of the army through an open field. 
The Indians were in a dense hummock about seventy-five 
yards distant. The men poured in one volley, and when 

they had reloaded they charged tlic hummock, driving the 
enemy slowly before them. So dense was the growth that 
the combatants often fired at each other at the distance of 
a few feet. The action lasted about two hours and a half, 
when the command drew off at dark, and camped in the 
vicinity of the scene of Dade's massacre. 

On the 21st, Gen. Armstrong ordered a combined move- 
ment against the enemy, who occupied the battle-ground of 
the 18th. The Tennesseeans were on the right, the regulars 
in the centre, and the friendly Indians on the left. The 
advance was made through open ground, and when the line 
reached a point within fifty yards of a dense hummock, a si- 
multaneous fire broke forth from both sides. The exposed 
situation of the troops rendered it imperative that they should 
go forward, and this they did with great impetuosity. The 
Indians stood the charge stubbornly, firing into the men's 
faces ; but they were gradually forced back through the 
hummock and the open space beyond into another hum- 
mock, whence they were again driven to take refuge on the 
margin of a shallow lake into which the men plunged in 
pursuit, wading up to their waists. The enemy, being again 
dislodged, sought refuge behind a deep channel connecting 
two lakes, whence it was impossible to drive them farther. 
About sunset the troops were withdrawn to camp three 
miles distant, bringing off the dead and wounded. The 
provisions being exhausted the brigade marched after this 
engagement to Velusia. Supplies being obtained here, 
the sick and disabled, one hundred and twenty in number, 
were sent around the cape on their homeward journey, and 
Armstrong's brigade returned by the late battle-ground to 
Fort Dade. The Indians had all returned south into tlfe 
Everglades. From this point the Tennesseeans marched on 
foot (having to use the remaining horses for pack-animals) 
to Tampa Bay, whore they embarked on the 25th of De- 
cember for New Orleans, at which place they were dis- 
charged, ending a six-months' term of service, the most 
arduous that can well be imagined. 

Judge Guild mentions among the members of this regi- 
ment who afterwards became distinguished, Ex-Governor 
Neill S. Brown, Ex-Governor William Trousdale, Ex-Gov- 
ernor William B. Campbell, Gen. Robert Armstrong, Gen. 
Felix K. Zollickofler, Hon. Russell Houston, Judge Terry 
H. Cahal, Judge Nathaniel Baxter, Gen. J. B. Bradford, 
Oscar F. Bledsoe, Capt. Frierson, Col. Henry, Maj. Goff, 
Col. John H. Savage, Col. J. H. McMahon, Gen. Lee 
Read, and Hon. Jesse Fiuley, of Florida. 



Inferinr Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions— First Session in Da- 
vidson—Full List of Justices and Judges of the County— Clerks 
— Sheriffs — Circuit Court Record — Supreme Court of Law and 
Equity — Superior Court of Errors and Appeals— Court of Chancery 
— Law Court — Criminal Court. 

Under an act of North Carolina, of Oct. 6, 1783, the 
Governor issued commissions to four of the citizens on the 



Cumberland — to wit : Isaac Bledsoe, Samuel Barton, Francis 
Prince, and Isaac Lindsay — to organize " An Inferior Court 
of Pleas and Quarter Sessions" at Nasliborough. This In- 
ferior Court was by the act invested with extraordinary 
powers, and embraced a very wide range of subjects. It 
was, in fact, invested with jurisdiction over all the legal, 
judicial, legislative, executive, military, and prudential 
affairs of the county. It was like a country store in a now 
and frontier state of society, which is supplied with all sorts 
of' miscellaneous commodities adapted to the wants of the 
early settlers, but as order and population advance and 
society becomes more systematized, these things are sepa- 
rated and distributed into different branches and depart- 
ments, according to the wants and demands of a more 
civilized community ; so the general and miscellaneous 
functions discharged by the first court became after a time 
separated and assigned to different branches of a systematic 
judiciary, demanded by a more perfect state of society. 

At first as many of the justices of the Inferior Court of 
Pleas and Quarter Sessions as could attend sat in court to- 
gether. This continued to be the practice until the January 
term of 1791, when, " the several commissions of the peace 
being all of the same date, it was agreed by the court that 
each person named in the commission of the peace, with 
others who had been in former commissions, should all place 
their names upon separate tickets, which should be drawn 
in three classes, and a reserve. Samuel Barton was elected 
to succeed Robert Hay as chairman. Several subsequent 
attempts were made to form four separate benches for the 
different sessions, but without success, as each had to draw 
on the other for members to form a quorum." 

The first emancipation of negro slaves within the county 
was ordered by this court April 18, 1801, on the petition 
of Thomas Molloy, Esq., " praying leave of the court to 
emancipate three slaves, — Sam, Sophi, and Harry, — or 
either of them, free by deed at any time hereafter, and the 
same may be entered ou record." 

At the first session of the Davidson County Court, An- 
thony Bledsoe and James Mulherin were both candidates 
for the ofiice of surveyor. The vote resulting in a tie, that 
office was left vacant until the ensuing court. Samuel 
Ma.son was appointed constable at Maulding's, James Mc- 
Cain at Mansker's, Stephen Ray at Ilcatonsburg, John Mc- 
Adaras at Nasliborough, and Edward Swanson at Free- 
laud's Station. James Freeland was appointed overseer of 
the road from Nasliborough to as fiir as opposite Mr. Bu- 
chanan's spring, and Josiah Shaw from Mansker's to said 
spring, with authority to call together as many of the inhabi- 
tants of their respective stations as should be necessary. 

The following persons were named by the court as the 
first grand jurymen: James Shaw, Ebenezor Titus, James 
Mulherin, Isaac Johnson, Daniel Williams, Sr., Robert 
Espey, John Buchanan, William Gowen, James Freeland, 
George Freeland, Francis Hodge, John Thomas, Heydan 
Wells, David Rounsevall, James Hollis, Sr., John Hamil- 
ton, Capt. Gasper Mansker, Benjamin Kuykendall, Elmore 

Douglass, Joseph Masdin, Capt. McFadden, Solomon 

White, Charles Thompson, Benjamin Drake. Daniel Smith 
was elected surveyor, and James JloCain coroner, at the 
next session of the court. 


'' The Court give leave to Headon Wells to build a water 
grist-mill on Thomas' Creek, about a quarter and a half a. 
quarter up said creek from the mouth." 


" Ordered, that the road leading from Nashville to 
Mansker's Station, as laid off heretofore by order of the 
Committee, be cleared out. 

" 178-t, January 5. — -Court met. Members present, 
the Worshipful Isaac Bledsoe, Samuel Barton, and Isaac 
Lindsay, Esqs. 

" January 6. — On motion made to the Court concerning 
allegations against George Montgomery, as an aider and 
abettor in the treasonable piratical proceedings carried in 
the Mississippi against the Spaniards, it is the opinion of 
the Court that the said M. be in security in the sum of 
one hundred and fifty pounds for his appearance at our next 
Court, on which Elijah Robertson and Stephen Ray became 
securities for his appearance. 

" William Cocke and John Sevier were ofi"ered as securi- 
ties on the bond of Matthew Talbot, elected as Clerk. It 
is the opinion of the Court that he is not entitled thereto. 

" The following military officers were sworn : Anthony 
Bledsoe, 1st Colonel; Isaac Bledsoe, 1st Major; Samuel 
Barton, 2d Major; Gasper Mansker, 1st Captain; George 
Freeland, 2d ; John Buchanan, 3d ; James Ford, 4th ; 
William Ramsey, Jonathan Drake, Ambrose Maulding, and 
Peter Sides, Lieutenants ; William Collins and Elmore 
Douglass, Ensigns. 

" Daniel Smith appointed Surveyor. 

" 1784, April 5.- — Court met at the house where Jona- 
than Drake lately lived. Adjourned to meet immediately 
in the house in Nashborough where Israel Harmon lately 

We give below a complete list of the justices, clerks, and 
sheriffs from the date of organization of the court to the 
present year, 1880, with the years in which they were com- 
missioned : 


1783. — Anthony Bledsoe, Daniel Smith, James Robert- 
son, Isaac Bledsoe, Samuel Barton, Thomas Molloy, Francis 
Prince, Isaac Lindsay. 

1784.' — James Ford, Elijah Robertson, James Mulherin. 

1785. — Samuel Marston, Ephraim McLean. 

1787. — Benjamin Hardin, James Mears. 

1788. — John Sappington, Adam Lynn, John Kirkpat- 
rick, David Hay. 

1789. — John Donelson, Robert Hay, Robert Weakley, 
Robert Ewin. 

1790. — Robert Edmundson, Joel Rice. 

1791. — Lardner Clark, Edwin Hickman, James Ross, 
James Hoggatt. 

1792. — John Nichols. 

1794. — Seth Lewis, Thomas Smith, Sampson Williams. 

1795. — James Byrns. 

1796. — John Gordon, Joseph Phillips. 

1797. — Thomas Hutchings, George MoWhirter, Thomas 
Talbott, William Donelson. 



1798. — John Davis, Thomas Dilahunty,* Andrew Cas- 
tleman, Joel Lewis, Henry Redford. 

1799. — John Thompson, Thomas Hickman, Robert 
Searcy, Robert Hewitt, Samuel Bell, Nicholas Tait Perkins, 
Benjamin D. AVclls, John Weathers, Abraham Boyd, David 
McEwen, John Hope, John Witherspoon, David Shannon, 
Robert Thompson, Willie Barrow, Daniel Young, Thomas 

ISOO. — Edmond Gamble, James Dickson, James BI. 
Lewis, Josiah Horton, Sampson Hfeis, Elisha Rice. 

1802. — William Nash, John Anderson, Joseph Coleman, 
Sampson Harris, James Byrns. 

1803. — Joseph Horton. 

1804. — John Stump, William Hall, Lewis Demoss, 
Joshua Balance, Robert Heaton, John Lewis, Isam Allen 
Parker, Thomas Deaderick, Charles Robertson, Isaac Rob- 
erts, Thomas Williams, Thomas A. Claiborne, Eli Ham- 

1805.- — James Demoss, Michael C. Dunn, Carey Felts, 
William Donelson, Christopher Stump. 

1806. — Francis Sanders, Candour McFadden, Robert 
Horton, Samuel Shannon, Peter Perkins, M. Donelson, 
Thomas Williams, Robert C. Foster, George S. Allen. 

1807. — John Wilkes, Henry Hamilton. 

1808. — Edmond Cooper, George Wade, Hugh Allison, 
George Wharton, Joseph Love. 

1809. — Christopher Robertson, Joseph Green, Benjamin 
J. Bradford, Benajah Gray, Philip Pipkin, Robert Johnson, 
P; S. Allen. 

1810.— John Goodrich, Elihu S. Hall, William Chil- 
dress, Jr., William Anderson, Alexander Walker, John 
Read, James Shannon, Braxton Lee. 

1812. — Richard D. Harmon, Eldridge Newsom, Robert 
Edmondson, John Childress.^ 

1813. — Levi McCoUum, Jonathan Drake. 

1815. — George M. Martin, Eldridge Newscom, Zachariah 
Allen. 1 

1816.— Stephen Cantrell, Jr., Wilkins Tannehill, Eli 
Talbot,-}" William Russell, Jeremiah Ezell, William Sanders, 
Joseph Caldwell, Isaac Redding, Robert B. Cherry, E. H. 
Call, William B. Lewis. ^ 

1817. — Edmond Goodrich, Iredale Redding, Joseph T. 
Elliston, William Williams, Jesse Wharton, William Wal- 
lace, William H. Shelton, William H. Nance, Richard 

1818.— Thomas Claiborne. 

1820. — George Wilson, John P. Erwin, Daniel A. Dun- 
ham, David Dunn, V. Buchanan Lanier, Alpha Kingsley, 
Sampson Prowell, Thomas Edmonston. 

1821. — Dahiel A. Dunham, Silas Dilahunty, William 
Faulkner, Willis L. Shumate, Thomas G. Bradford, Ab- 
solom Graves, William Lytle. 

1822. — James Carter, John Bell, Robert C. Thompson, 
William Ramsey, Leonard Keeling, Jlichael Gleaves,'j' Gil- 
bert G. Washington, Eli Talbott, John Pirtle, Philip 

1824. — Joseph Narville, Jeremiah Baxter, John Davis, 
Stephen Cantrell, John R. Grundy, Andrew Ilynes, Enoch 

Originally spelled De La Hoote. 


t Resigned. 

P. Crowell, David Ralston, James Marshall, Herbert Towns, 
John M. Lovell,-Henry Whyte. 

1826. — Samuel McManners,f Anthony W. Johnson, 
John Jones, George W. Charlton, Thomas Welch, Nicholas 
B. Pryor, Thomas Scott, Isaac Hunter. 

1827. — Jesse Shelton,. Willoughby Williams, William 
E. Watkins, Jordan Hyde, Wilson L. Gower, Daniel 

1828. — Robert Farquharson, Hays Blaekman, Thomas 
Fenbee, William Donelson, John Hall, Abraham Demoss, 
Reuben Payne. " . 

1830. — Enoch Ensley, William L. Willis, Jonathan 
Garrett, Thomas Bell, Herbert Owen, Nathaniel Gillian, 
John Berry, John P. Erwin, William Armstrong."}" 

1831. — James Sims, Jonathan Browning, John Wright, 
William James, Francis McGavock, Howell Harris. 

1832.— William H. Hogans. 

1833.— Allen Knight, Edward H. East, David Aber- 

1834. — Joseph W. Clay, James H. Foster, Brent Spence, 
Joseph B. Knowles, L. P. Cheatham. 

1S35.— Quorum, William Williams, Elihu S. Hall, Gil- 
bert G. Washington. 

Agreeable to the " Act to Reorganize the County Courts 
of this State," passed by the Legislature of Tennessee, 
Dec. 3, 1835, the County Court was opened May 2, 1836, 
by Gilbert G. Washington, Esq., a justice of the former 
court, and commissions from the Governor of the State were 
presented, authorizing the following-named gentlemen to 
serve as justices of the peace in and for the county of 
Davidson for a "term of six years : 

In the District of Nashville (No. 1).— Elihu S. Hall, 
John P. Erwin, Joseph B. Knowles, Joseph Norvell, 
Thomas J. Read, Thomas Calendar. 

District No. 2.— John H. Clopton, William G. M. 

District No. 3. — Edward H. East, John Vaudeville. 

District No. 4.— John A. Shute, John BIcNeill. 

District No. 5. — Herbert Towns, Thomas S. King. 

District No. 6. — William Hagans, James R. Chilloutt. 

District No. 7. — Enoch Ensley, John B. Hodges. 

District No. 8. — William Owen, John Hogan. 

District No. 9. — John Cortwell, John Hathaway. 

District No. 10. — John McRobertson, Joshua Mcin- 

District'No. 11.— Robert Bradford, Philip Shute. 

District No. 12. — William E. Watkins, Samuel B. Da- 

District No. 13. — William Shellon, Elijah Nicholson. 

District No. 14. — John Davis, Martin Forehand. 

District No. 15. — Thomas AUiston, William Herrin. 

District No. 16. — William Greer, Lewis Dunn. 

District No. 17. — Francis Carter, Moses Crisp. 

District No. 18. — John McGavock, John Hobson. 

District No. 19. — Reuben Payne, Edmund Goodrich. 

District No. 20. — -Enoch P. Conneli, John C. Bowers. 

District No. 21. — Charles W. Moorman, Claiborne T. 

District No. 22. — David Ralston, John Cloyd. 

District No. 23. — William I. Drake, David Abernathy. 



District No. 24. — Jonathan R. Garrett, Daniel Brice. 

District: No. 25.— Thomas W. Sherron, Wilson Crockett. 

Elihu S. Hall, of Nashville, was elected chairman. 
Those whose names appear in italics constituted with him 
the quorum for the ensuing year. 

1836.— William Williams, John Wright, Robert Weak- 
ley, Blackstone F. Brinkley. 

1837.- James M. Cook, Bartlett M. Barnes, William 
Stringfellow, Thomas Scott, AVilliam Hassell. 

1838.— E. M. Patterson, John Beasley, Marshall B. 
Mumford, Peter B. Morris. 

1839.— William II. Hambelio, William M. Bartle, 
William Faulkner, Benjamin D. Pack, Joseph Kellam. 
Qiiormn, Robert Bradford, Charles W. Bloorman, John 

1840. — George S. Smith, Thomas Gale.* Quorum, Elihu 
S. Hall. 

1841.— Samuel W. Hope, Elihu S. Hall, William Tan- 
nehill,* Joseph H. McEwen, Josiah Ferris, W. H. Hamlin, 
John Mcintosh, William Williams, Jonas Shivers, W. R. 
EUiston, James Yarborough, George W. Cliarlton, James 
H. Cook, W. H. Clemons, David Ralston, Samuel W. Hope, 
C. W. Nance, Enoch P. Connell, Lewis Joslin, Samuel B. 
Davidson, G. F. Hamilton, Robert Goodlett, A. G. Briley, 
Tiiomas Bell, C. G. Lovell, Benjamin D. Pack, W. H. Lovell, 
Thomas J. Hale, Leonard Burnett, Martin Forehand, Mastin 
Ussery, William J. Drake, David Abernathy, William Greer, 
Benjamin Sharpe. Quorum, Elihu S. Hall, Charles W. 
Moorman, John Hogan. 

1842.- George D. Falmer, William E. Cartwright, Her- 
bert Towns, T. N. Cotton, John Hogan, John Corbitt, Allen 
Knight, John P. Still, John A. Shute, FeUx G. Earthman, 
B. M. Barnes, Zachariah Jones, William Herrin, E. M. 
Pallemon. Quorum, Elihu S. Hall, John Hogan, David 

1843. — William Cummings, John J. Henton, H. I. An- 
derson. Quorum, Josiah Ferris, William Williams, C. W. 

1844— William H. Coleman, John B. McCutchen, 
Sterling W. Goodrich, James H. Hagar, James R. Allen. 
,Quornm, Josiah Ferris, William Williams, William R. 

1845. — Theodore Fagundus,* S. W. Edmondson, Roger 
Pegran. Quorum, Josiah Ferris, William Williams, 
AVilliam R. EUiston. 

1840.- Robert L. Neely, George Gill, David Williams, 
Hugh I. Patterson. §«o)-!(«i, Joseph BI. McEwen, William 
Williams, William R. EUiston. 

1847. — Moses Newell, Hollis Hagar, William Nelson, 
John BI. Thompson, William G. Lanier, James H. Wilson. 
Quorum, Joseph H. BIcEweu, William R. EUiston. 

1848.— Hiram Gray, John F. Felts, Walter T. Greer, 
William Greer, William Blclntosh, Blastin Ussery, Zach- 
ariah Jones, Robert Green, E. A. Raworth, George Gill, D. 
F. BIcGhee, Robert Goodlett, P. B. Blorris, Josiah Ferris, 
Isaac Paul, Lawson Barry, I. R. Garrett, Benjamin Sharpe, 
Rolla Harrison, John H. Cartwin, Benjamin A. Phillips, 
Hollis Hagar, Henry Rumer, John BI. Thompson, William 

* Kcsign'ed. 

Williams, Samuel S. Hall, Thomas N. Cotton, Hugh J. 
Patterson, Henry Holt, Jesse Jordan, Chilson Crockett, 
William Johnson, C. G. Lovell, Joseph L. Jenill, Noah 
Underwood, Samuel B. Davidson, James R. Allen, Herbert 
Towns, Richard A. Turner, James H. Austin, Andrew 
Gregory, H. I. Anderson, Samuel "W. Edmonson, Hejiry BI. 
Hutton, John B. BIcCutchen, George B. Goodwin, James 
H. Wilson, John Corbitt, Benjamin L. Pack, Hawes 
Graves. Quorum, Josiah W. Ferri.s, Joseph H. BIcEwen, 
Isaac Paul. 

1849. — Quorum, Josiah W. FerriSj Joseph H. BIcEwen, 
Isaac Paul. 

1850. — William Dobson, Sterling Goodrich. Quorum, 
Joseph H. BIcEwen, Hawes Graves, Henry BI. Hutton. 

1851. — John House. Quorum, Joseph H. BIcEwen, 
Hawes Graves, Isaac Paul. 

1852. — Washington G. Smith, Joseph L. Garrett, Ed- 
mond B. Bigley. Quorum, Joseph H. BIcEwen, Hawes 
Graves, Isaac Paul. 

1853. — John W. Baker. (?»r«i(?;i, Joseph H. BIcEwen, 
Hawes Graves, Isaac Paul. 

1854. — John Chickering, Blichael H. Gleaves, Hiram 
Gray, A. J. Ramsey, W. C. Briley, William K. Wair, 
George Gill, Napoleon B. Willis, W. G. Lanier, Hawes 
Graves, John Taylor, Andrew Gregory, W. B. Phillips, J. 
AV. F. Blanning,* Benjamin F. Drake, Thomas Fuqua, 
William D. Baker, John W. Cartwright, Samuel B. David- 
son, Jesse Jordan, W. G. Smith, H. L. Parch, William 
Herrin, William Scott, Hollis Hagar, Isaac Paul,* H.'C. 
Blaroell, N. H. Belcher, I. G. Briley, W. Freeman, W. E. 
Cartwright, John Collart, P. B. Blovris, S. S. Hall, I. N. 
Brinkley, Josiah Ferris, J. L. Willis. Quorum, Hawes 
Graves, W. Crockett, Hollis Hagar. 

1 855. — Quorum, Hawes Graves, Wilson Crockett, Thomas 
B. Page. 

1856.— Herbert Towns, Joel F. Blays, R. G. Reeves, 
Ishara Dyer, John Greer, J. B. G. Carney. Quorum, 
Hawes Graves, Arthur C. White, Napoleon B. Willis."]" 

1858. — I. N. Alexander, Robert Holt, Felix Conipton. 
Quorum, F. W. Blaxey, Arthur C. White, T. W. Balance. 

1859.— BI. I. Couch, Wiftiam D. Robertson. 

I860.— William D. Robertson, G. BI. Southgate, W. C. 
Briley, AVilliam W. Goodwin, Nathan Harsh, Joseph A. 
Brent, George W. Spain, James Williams, Horace G. Scales, 
G. B. Gunter, Samuel B. Davidson, Church Hooper, Ben- 
jamin Williams, E. H. Childress, John Taylor, W. B. Hud- 
son, Robert Holt, George Harsh, George Gill, Napoleon B. 
AViUis, T. F. BIcNcill, William Curtis, Willis Wade, T. BI. 
Patterson, Gilpin Hallum, John H. Cartwright, J. Creigh- 
ton, N. H. Belcher, Theodore B. Page, W. J. Chandler, S. 
D. Corley, George Greer, I. G. Powell, B. Gray, John G. 
Briley, George Lunisden, James Thomas, Zachariah Payne, 
James Fleming, Alexander BIcDaniels, Benjamin Williams, 
Charles Burrows, James Ilaynie, William F. Bleacham, 
Benjamin N. Dodd. 

f These were succeeded by Hon. James AVhitworth, who was elected 
first judge of the County Court of Davidson County on Saturday, I 
May 3d, and took his oath of office May 9, 1S56, when he immedi- 
ately took his scat as judge of the Counly Court. 

J j Ci-^C^^^-?^ 



1861.— L_N^ Hobbs, William W. Gan-ctt, P. B. Cole- 

1862.— Herbert Towns, John W. Kucker. 

1864.*— C. M. Stewart, I. R. AV. Peavcy, Enoch Cun- 
ningham, Wesley Drake, Joseph I. Robb, D. Bruce Blair, 
Thomas McCarty, A. B. Shankland. 

1865. — I. B. Canfield, John R. Cowan, Jeremiah Bowen, 
William A. Knight, Z. T. Hays, Drury A. Phelan, James 
Norveli, Isaac Wbitworth. 

1866.— W. D. Baker, William J. Chandler, Henry Mc- 
Neil';" Henry Holt, Jr., James S. Williams, W. B. Hudson, 
William Curtis, Paschal W. Brien, A. S. Edwards, John 
W. Bush. 

1867.— Ernst Pohl. 

1868.— B. N. Dodd, Samuel B. Davidson, A. S. Thur- 
neck, T. A. Harris, J. Albert Smith, D. L. Lapslcy, Her- 
bert Towns. 

1869.— John H. Baskette, Isaac Paul, Patrick McTigue, 
James M. Hinton, Thomas T. Saunders, William B. Ewing, 
Fletcher W. Horn.f 

1870.— A. C. Phelan, Daniel N. Neylan, W. F. Meacham, 
W. H. Wilkinson, W. A. Wherry, J. H. Galbreath, J. BI. 
Shives, H. G. Scales, W. M. Butler,j; D. S. Graves, John 
W. Rucker, C. B. Chickering, L. B. Bigley, Oswell Newby, 
W. A. Knight, Thomas T. Saunders, G. W. MoCarley, H. 
L. Abernathy, James S. Williams, R. D. CampbelLf Joseph 
W. Bigley, B. F. Gloaves, A. Peebles, W. J. Wade, James 
Wyatt, D. A. Phelan, W. J. Chandler, William Curtis, 
Patrick Walsh, Thomas K. Griggs, Isaac Paul", M. I. 
Couch, James T. Patterson, Jam^s A. Steele, F. P. Sulli- 
van, Patrick McTigue, E. H. Childress, P. R. Albert, John 
H. Baskette, H. L. Claiborne, John I. C. Davidson, James 
Everett, George J. Hooper, Martin Kerrigan, B. W. Masey, 

D. W. Neylan, Isaac Paul, George W. Spain, Jerry Bowen, 

E. H. Childress, William B. Ewing,. Thomas J. Hardy, 
John G. Marshall, James S. Read, John Taylor, John 
Bush, Hat. F. Dortch, Benajah Gray, John Hows, James 
T. Patterson, F. P. Sullivan, Isaac Whitworth, W. A. Size- 
more, T. D. Ca.ssetty, F. A. Trcppard, James Wyatt, J. S. 

1871.— J. E. Wright. 

1872.— James H. Brantley, John F. Hide. 

1873.— A. D. Creighton, R. B. Cheatham, S. A. Duling, 
R. S. Millt-r, James H. Still, Thomas Harris, Chris. Power. 

1874.— Frederick Ehrhart, George Mayfield, S. Y. Nor- 
veli, James BI. Sinipkins. 

1875.— J. H. Bruce, Peter Tamble. 

1876.— R. K. Adams, W. H. Ambrose, John H. 
kette, H. J. Bruce, Joseph W. Bigley, J. B. Brown, W. 
D. Baker, T. D. Cassetty, A. D. Creighton, J. B. Canfield, 
H. L. Claiborne, J. B. Cox, C. B. Chickering, W. J. 
Chandler, W. S. Craig, J. J. Corley, BI. J. Couch, BI. S. 
Cockrill, John S. Dasheilds, John S. C. Davidson, S. A. 
Duling, John V. Dennison, James Everett, Philip Ehrhart, 
W. L. Earthman, J. R. Evans, John H. Graves, J. H. 
Galbreath, Benajah Gray, Peter Harris, Jr., P. A. Harris, 
C. B. Hall, Stephen H. Hows, James Haynie, John A. 

''^'" Commissioned by Andrew Johnson, military governor. 
I Resigned. J Colored. 

Hamblen, W. A. Hadloy, Robert C. Hill, T. C. Hibbett, 
Andrew H. Johnson, Blartin Kerrigan, R. S. Knowles, 
Isaac Sctton, R. S. Bliller, John G. Blarshall, George May- 
field, D. N. Neylan, George W. NorvcU, John Overton, C. 
Power, A. Peebles, Howard Peckett, T. A. Sykes, Jerry 
Sullivan, James H. Still, James BI. Simpkins, T. T. Saun- 
ders, John W. Shule, John BI. Simpkins, J. BI. Shivers, 
L. BI. Temple, F. 0. Treanor, Peter Tamble, John Taylor, 
S. BI. Wene, James Whitworth. 
1878.— Robert R. Caldwell. 


The judges of this court have been Hon. James Whit- 
worth, commissioned Blay 9, 1856, and Blarch, 1858; 
Hon. William A. Glenn, qualified April 3, 1866, and was 
his immediate successor. 

Hon. William K. Turner first presided over this court 
in July, and was sworn into office as county judge Sept. 1, 
1870. He died while in office, Thursday, Aug. 10, 1871. 

Hon. W. A. Glenn was elected by the court to fill the 
vacancy. His seat was contested by Hon. Thomas T. 
Smiley, — "Case of State of Tennessee on the election of 
Thomas T. Smiley, ss. : William A. Glenn," — which re- 
sulted in declaring Thomas T. Smiley judge of the County 
Court of Davidson County, to fill the vacancy occasioned by 
the death of Hon. W. K. Turner, in accordance with a com- 
mission from His Excellency D. W. C. Senter, Governor 
of Tennessee, dated Aug. 26, 1871. He took his oath and 
entered upon the duties of his office Feb. 11, 1872. Ho 
'was succeeded by Hon. John C. Ferriss, the present judge, 
Aug. 8, 1872. 

At the expiration of Judge Whitworth's term of office 
the court passed the following resolution of respect : 

" Resolved, That we bid adieu to James Whitworth, late 
judge of this court, ;with feelings of kindness and heartfelt 
gratitude for the very able manner in which ho has man- 
aged^ the financial affiiirs of this county during the late 
troublous times incident to the war ; and that' it has been 
a pleasure to this court to review the acts and deliberations 
of this court for the last four years, when it is remembered 
that the County Court has been the only part of the civil 
machinery belonging to the civil government that has been 
free and untrammeled and suffi^red to exercise its legal 
functions, and, as this court is constrained to believe, in a 
very great measure, attributable to the wise head at the 

On the organization of the first court, in 1783, Blatthew 
Talbott, Esrj., was elected clerk, and given until the open- 
ing of the next day's court in which to make his bonds. 
Failing in this, BIr. Andrew Ewing was elected in his stead 
the next morning, and continued to fill the position of clerk 
of the court until Feb. 1, 1813, when his son, Nathan 
Ewing, qualified as deputy clerk. He resigned in April 
ensuing, signing his formal resignation upon the record of 
the court and affixing a seal. Nathan Ewing, who had 
resigned his position as register in 1812, was then elected 
clerk . 

The court minutes contain the following record relat- 
ing to the death of Nathan Ewing, under date of Saturday, 
Blay 1, 1830: 



"At one o'clock p.m., Thomas Crutcher, Esq., treasurer 
of West Tennessee, came into open court and solemnly an- 
nounced that Nathan Ewing, clerk of the court, was no 
more; whereupon, on motion of Andrew Haj's, Esq., at- 
torney-general, the court su.spended all further judicial pro- 
ceedings, and the following preamble and resolutions were 
unanimously adopted, and ordered to be entered on record : 

" ' Nathan Ewing is dead. His long-continued and use- 
ful labors as an officer of this court are at an end ; his place 
cannot be filled. In the discharge of his official duties he 
united industry with intelligence, inflexibility with good na- 
ture and urbanity, and for a period of forty years stood before 
the public in a situation of the most delicate trust, not only 
■without imputation, but without suspicion ; and it may be 
stated with confidence that as a clerk he had no superior and 
scarcely an equal. As a neighbor, a citizen, and Christian 
he was admired by all. As a father, a husband, and master 
he was an example worthy of imitation. Penetrated with 
a just sense of the loss which the public has sustained by 
his untimely death, and with a view of manifesting our 
regard for his private virtues, — 

" ' Resolved, That the justices of the court, the members 
of the bar, and the officers of the court will wear crape for 
thirty days as an evidence of their respect for the memory 
of Nathan Ewing, late clerk of the court.' " 

Andrew Ewing, 1783-1813; Nathan Ewing, 1813-30; 
Henry Ewing, 1830-35 ; Smith Criddle, 1836-40 ; Robert 

B. Castleman, 1840-50 ; Felix R. Cheatham, 1850-61 ; 
Philip L. Nichol, 1862-70 ; W. G. Ewing, 1870-73 ; James 

- G. Bell, 1874-78 ; Joseph R. McCann, 1878-80. 


J Daniel Williams, 1783; Thomas Marston, 1785; David 
Way, 1787 ; Thomas Hickman, 1788; Sampson Williams, 
1789; William Porter, 1790; Sampson Williams, 1791-93; 
Nicholas P. Hardiman, 1794-98 ; Wright Williams, 1799; 
Joseph Johnson, 1800-1 ; John Boyd, 1802-7 ; Michael 

C. Dunn, 1808-15; Caleb Hewitt, 1816-17; Thomas 
Hickman, 1818-21; Joseph W. Horton, 1822-29; Wil- 
loughby Williams', 1830-35; Philip Campbell, 1836-38; 

■ Felix R. Rains, 1838-43 ; Churchill Lanier, 1844-47 ; B. 
M. Barnes, 1848-51; Littlebury W. Fussell, 1852-53; 
Edward B. Bigley, 1854-57 ; John K. Edmundson, 1857 ; 
James Hinton, 1858; Robert Campbell, 1859; John K. 
Edmundson, 1860-61 ; James M. Hinton, 1862-65; E. E. 
Patterson, 1866-67; C. BI. Donelson, 1868-72; E. D. 
Whitworth, 1872-75; Francis M. Woodall, 1876-77; 
John L. Price, 1878-79. 

Pursuant to an act. of the Legislature passed at Knox- 
ville, Nov. 7, 1809, entitled " An Act to Establish Circuit 
Courts and a Supreme Court of Errors and Appeals," on the 
12th day of March, 1810, a commission from William 
Blount, the Governor of the State of Tennessee, and under 
seal thereof, bearing date the 24th day of November, 1809, 
directed to Thomas Stuart, to be judge of the Fourth Circuit, 
was produced and read. The Circuit Court for Davidson 
County was thereupon organized and proceeded to business. 

The judges and clerks of this court have been the 

following : 


Hon. Thomas Stuart, commissioned Nov. 24, 1809. 

Hon. William P. Brown, commissioned Feb. 5, 1836 ; 
resigned 1838. 

Hon. James Rucks, commissioned Jan. 19, 1838. 

Hon. Thomas Maney, commissioned Sept. 5, 1839; re- 
signed 1852. 

Hon. Nathaniel Baxter, qualified Sept. 20, 1852. 

Hon. Manson M. Brien, commissioned June 28, 1864. 

Hon. John M. Lea, commissioned July 25, 1865. 

Hon. Manson M. Brien, commissioned May 18, 1866. 

Hon. Eugene Cary, commissioned Jan. 9, 1868. 

Hon. Nathaniel Baxter (elected), commissioned Sept. 1, 

Hon. Frank T. Reid, commissioned Sept. 1, 1878. 


Randall BIcGavock, qualified March, 1810. 

Jacob BIcGavook, qualified November, 1834. 

Robert B. Turner, qualified May 9, 1836. 

Thomas T. Smiley, qualified March 2, 1844. 

David C. Love, qualified March, 1858 ; reappointed Sept. 
5, 1864. 

Albert Akens, qualified May, 1870. 

Nat. F. Dortch, qualified September, 1874. 

At the last session of September, 1861, the court met, 
but no judge was present. The clerk, David C. Love, Esq., 
recorded the meetings of the court March 3, 4, and 5, 1862 ; 
Sept. 1, 2, and 3, 1863 ; and March 2, 3, and 4, 1863, no 
judge being present on either occasion. The next court 
convened Sept. 5, 1861, and was presided over by Judge 


The Supreme Court of Tennessee was organized under 
the Constitution of 1834. It was preceded by the Superior 
Court of Law and Equity, from 1790 to 1810, and by the 
Supreme Court of Errors and Appeals, from 1810 to 1834. 

The judges of the Superior Court of Law and Equity 
were : 


A judge under the authority of North Carolina, ap- 
pointed by the President in the spring of 1790 Territorial 
judge. Upon the Territory south of the Ohio being ad- 
mitted into the Union as the State of Tennessee, Judge 
Campbell went out of office. He was again appointed a 
judge of the Superior Courts in the fall of 1797 by the 
Legislature, vice W. C. C. Claiborne resigned ; went out of 
office on the abolition of the District or Superior Courts, on 
the 1st of January, 1810, and in the session of Congress, 
1810 and 1811, was appointed by the President one of the 
judges of the Mississippi Territory, and died in the fall of 



A judge under the authority of North Carolina ; was 

appointed by the President Territorial judge in the spring 

of 1790. He continued in that office until the formation 

of the State, April, 1796, when he was appointed by the 

Legislature one of the three judges of the Superior Courts. 



In the spring of 1797 he was appointed district judge of 
the Federal courts for the State of Tennessee, which office 
he held till his death, in 1831 (?) 


Appointed by the President Territorial judge in Feb- 
ruary, 1791 ; continued in that office till the spring of 
1796, when the Territory ceased and the State took its 
place. He was then appointed a senator in Congress. 


Appointed by the Legislature of the State in April, 
1796; resigned in June, 1801. In August following he 
was elected Governor for two years, and in November, 1811, 
appointed circuit judge. 


Appointed in April, 1796 ; resigned in September follow- 
ing. In August, 1809, elected Governor for two years, and 
again elected to the same office in August, 1811. 


Appointed by the Executive, vice Willie Blount resigned, 
in the fall of 1796. In the summer of 1797 he resigned, 
and was elected a member of the House of Representatives, 
and by re-elections continued in Congress until appointed 
by the President Governor of the Mississippi Territory, in 
the year 1801. After the Territory of Orleans was formed 
he was appointed by the President Governor of that Terri- 
tory, and was also elected Governor of the State in the fall 
of 1812. 


Appointed by the Governor in May, 1797, vke John 
McNairy ; resigned in June, 1798, and subsequently ap- 
pointed by the Legislature commissioner of land-claims. 


United States senator from Tennessee ; resigned in June, 
1798; in the fall or winter of that year was appointed a 
judge of the Superior Courts ; continued in office until 
June, 1804, when he resigned, having been appointed 
major-general of the militia. 


Appointed by the Legislature in the fall of 1801, vice 
Archibald Roane; resigned in April, 1807 ; the same year 
elected a' Senator in the State Legislature ; in the fall of 
1809 appointed by the Legislature one of the judges of the 
Supreme Court of Errors and Appeals, which office he held 
till Deo. 31, 1814, when he resigned, and was afterwards 
appointed president of the State Bank. 


Former supervisor of the revenue of the United States, 
appointed in July, 1804, a judge of the Superior Courts, 
vice Andrew Jackson, resigned ; went out of office on the 
abolition of those courts &n the 1st of January, 1810. 
In November, 1811, he was appointed by the Legislature 
one of the judges of the Supreme Court of Errors and 
Appeals, vice George W. Campbell. 


Appointed by the Governor in April, 1807, vice H. L. 
White ; resigned in the fall following. 


Appointed an additional judge of the Superior Courts in 
the fall of 1807 ; continued in office till the abolition of 
those courts on the 1st of January, 1810, having in the 
preceding fall been appointed one of the judges of the Cir- 
cuit Courts. In April, 1813, he was elected a member of 
Congress, and thereupon resigned the office of circuit judge. 


Appointed by the Legislature in the fall of 1807, vice 
Hugh L. White, resigned ; continued in office until the 
abolition of the Superior Courts. In the fall of 1812 he 
was elected a circuit judge, which office he declined. 

The following were judges of the Supreme Court of 
Errors and Appeals : • 


Formerly representative in Congress; was appointed judge 
by the Legislature in the ftiU of 1809; he continued on 
the bench till the fall of 1811, when he was elected United 
States senator. 


Appointed by the Legislature in the fall of 1809. He 
resigned Dec. 31, 1814, and was afterwards appointed pres- 
ident of the State Bank. 


Appointed in November, 1811, vice George W. Camp- 
bell. He remained on the bench till his resignation, 
April 11, 1816. 


Appointed by the Governor, May 27, 1815, vice H. L. 
White, resigned ; also appointed by the Legislature, Oct. 
21, 1815, and remained in office until his-death, July 20, 

The vacancy had been tendered by the Governor to 
Samuel Powel, of Rogersville, January 2d; to Enoch 
Parsons, of Maryville, in January ; to George Duffield, of 
Elizabethtown, in February; and to John Williams, of 
Knoxville, in March, 1815 ; but they had severally de- 
clined. Mr. Powel was afterwards elected to Congress, 
and Blr. Williams to the United States Senate. 

Appointed by the Legislature as third, or an additional, 
judge of the Supreme Court of Errors and Appeals, Oct. 
21, 1815. 


Appointed by the Legislature, May 22, 1816, vice John 
Overton, resigned, and continued in office till the court was 
abolished in 1834 by the adoption of the new Constitution. 
Judge Haywood had been offered the appointment, April 
23, 1816, but had declined. 



Appointed by the Legislature, Sept. 1-1, 1816, vice Wil- 
liam W. Cooke, deceased, and remained on the bench till 
his death, Dec. 22, 1826. 


Appointed by the Legislature in 1822, upon the resigna- 
tion of Judge EmmersoD, and remained on the bench till 


Appointed by the Legislature in 1822, upon the resigna- 
tion of Judge Emmerson, and resigned in 182-1, and Hon. 
Henry Crabb was appointed in his place. 

Appointed by the Legislature in December, 182-t, vice 
William L. Brown, resigned, and remained upon the bench 
until superseded by the election under the new Con.stitu- 
tion of 1834. He was afterwards, in March, 1837, ap- 
pointed a judge of the Supreme Court of the United States. 

Appointed by the Governor in 1827, vice Hon. John 
Haywood, deceased, and died the same year. 


Appointed by the Legislature, in 1831, an additional 
judge, and remained on the bench till the change of the 
court under the Constitution of 1834. 

Nine of the above judges — viz., Messrs. McNairy, Tatum, 
Jackson, Overton, Campbell, Emmerson, Cooke, Haywood, 
and Whyte — were residents of Davidson County; the others 
resided chiefly or wholly in East Tennessee. 

(Since 1834.) 

Under the Constitution of 1834 the following judges of 
the Supreme Court were elected, viz. : 

Hon. William B. Turley. 

Hon. William B. Reese. 

Hon. Nathan Green. 

These were all re-elected in 1843. 

Judge Reese resigned in 1848, and Hon. Robert J. 
McKinney was elected in his place. 

In 1850, Judge Turley resigned, and Hon. A. W. 0. 
Totten was elected in his place. 

Judge Green resigned in 1852, and Hon. Robert L. Ca- 
ruthers was appointed to fill the vacancy. 

In 1853 the Constitution was revised, and the existing 
judges were re-elected, viz. : 

Hon. Robert J. McKinney. 

Hon. Robert L. Caruthers. 

Hon. A. W. O. Totten. 

Judge Totten resigned Aug. 20, 1855, and Hon. Wil- 
liam R. Harris was elected in his place. 

Judge Harris died June 19, 1858, and Hon. Archibald 
Wright was elected in his place. 

Judge Caruthers resigned in 1861, and Hon. William F. 
Cooper was elected in his place. 

No term of the court was held during the civil war, and 

in 1865, His Excellency William G. Brownlow, Governor 
of the State, appointed new judges as follows : 

Hon. Samuel Milligan. 

Hon. J. 0. Shackleford. 

Hon. Alvin Hawkins. 

Judge Shackleford resigned in 1867, and Hon. Horace 
H. Harrison was appointed in his place. 

Judge Harrison resigned in 1868, and Hon. J. 0. 
Shackleford was appointed in his place. 

In 1868, Judge Hawkins resigned, and his place was 
filled by the appointment of Hon. Henry G. Smith. 

Upon the resignation of Judge Milligan, in 1868, Hon. 
George Andrews was appointed judge. 

In May, 1869, there was an election by the people, under 
the restricted suflFrages which then prevailed, and the fol- 
lowing judges were chosen : 

Hon. George Andrews. h 

Hon. Andrew McClain. ^ 

Hon. Alvin Hawkins. 

In August, 1870, there was a new election held under 
the revised Constitution of that year, and six judges were . 
elected, to wit : 

Hon. Alfred 0. P. Nicholson. 

Hon. James W. Deaderick. 

Hon. Peter Turney. 

Hon. Thomas A. R. Nelson. 

Hon. John L. T. Sneed. 

Hon. Thomas J. Freeman. 

In 1871, Judge Nelson resigned, and Hon. Robert Mc- 
Farland was elected in his place. 

Judge Nicholson was elected chief justice. He died on 
the 23d of March, 1876. 

By a provision of the Constitution of 1870, the judges 
of the Supreme Court are, by the death of Judge Nichol- 
son, reduced to five. 

Judge Deaderick was then elected chief justice. 

In August, 1878, there was a new ele^ition, and the fol- 
lowing five judges were elected : 

Hon. J. W. Deaderick. 

Hon. Robert McFarland. 

Hon. Peter Turney. 

Hon. Thomas J. Freeman. 

Hon. William F. Cooper. 

Judge Deaderick was again elected chief justice. These 
constitute the present bench of the Supreme Court of Ten- 

Of the judges of the Supreme Court since 1834 only 
Messrs. Caruthers, Nicholson, and Cooper are, or have been, 
residents of Davidson County. 

Judges of the Supreme Court were elected by the Legis- 
ture till 1853, at which date, by provision of the revised 
Constitution, they became elective by the people, and hold 
their office eight years instead of twelve, as under the 
former Constitution. District and State attorneys also hold 
for a term of eight years. 


From the adoption of the Constitution of 1834 to 1847 
the Court of Chancery was held at Franklin. In the latter 
year a Court of Chancery was established at Nashville for 




Davidson County. Hon. Terry H. Cahal was appointed 
chancellor in 1S4G, and continued to occupy that station 
till his death, which occurred in February, 1851. We give 

j below a list of the chancellors and clerks of this court for 

I Davidson County : 


Terry H. Cahal, 1846, to Feb. 19, 1851. 

B. L. Ridley,* June, 1851. 

John S. Brien, Oct. 29, 1851, to November, 1853. 

Samuel D. Frierson, November, 1853. 

David Campbell, commissioned March 12, 1866. 

Horace H. Harrison, commissioned April 2, 1867. 

J. 0. Shackleford, commissioned Feb. 28, 1868. 

E. A. Otis, commissioned Deo. 16, 1868. 

Edward H. East, elected May 27, 1869. 

William F. Cooper, commissioned Nov. 20, 1872. 

Alfred G. Merritt, elected Aug. 1, 1878. 


Jackson B. White, appointed Feb. 3, 1846, and Feb. 3, 

Carlton D. Brien, appointed March 12, 1853. 
John E. Gleaves, appointed March 2, 1858. 

! Morton B. Howell, appointed Sept. 9, 1865. 
Nathaniel Baxter, appointed Nov. 16, 1870. 
Eobert Ewing, appointed Nov. 18, 1876. 

The Court of Chancery held jurisdiction over equity 
causes exclusively till 1877, since which certain legal causes 
are included. 

Benjamin Litton, clerk of the Court of Chancery-for 
Williamson County, was a resident of Nashville, and re- 
sided till his death at the Litton place, where the Van- 
derbilt University now stands. He was a brother of Mr. 
Isaac Litton, one of the present justices of the County 


This court was organized under the revised Constitution 
of 1853, and originally embraced Davidson, Rutherford, 
Sumner, and Montgomery Counties. On the 17th of June, 
1870, its limits were reduced to Davidson and Rutherford 
Counties. The judges of this court have been as follows: 

Hon. William K. Turner, 1853-64. 

Hon. Thomas N. Frazier, 1864-67 ; removed. 

Hon. John Hugh Smith, 1867-70. 

Hon. Thomas N. In-azier (elected), 1870-78. 

Hon. James M. Quarles, 1878 ; present incumbent. 


Thomas T. Smiley, 1853t to 1856. 

John Shane, 1856 to 1860. 

Charles E. Diggins, from Blarch 3, 1860, to April 6, 
1863, when he was removed from office. 

Charles W. Smith, appointed April 6, 1863. 

John H. Hall, elected March 5, 1864; died in office in 

Charles E. Diggins, appointed to vacancy Aug. 8, 1865 ; 
elected, and served' to 1870. 

'=' Served in May and June terra, 1851. 
t Clerk of Circuit Court for ISJi. 

Hugh W. Frizzell, September, 1870, to August, 1872. 

Samuel Donelson, August, 1872 ; re-elected, 1874, to 
September, 1878. . 

Albert S. Williams, September, 1878, to serve until Sep- 
tember, 1882. ' 

This court was established by act of the Legislature in 
1870, with jurisdiction of law causes for Davidson and 
Sumner Counties. The first term began in Nashville on 
the first Monday of September, 1870. 


Hon. Josephus C. Guild, elected by the people for a term 
of eight years, and occupied the bench till September, 1878, 
when the court was abolished by the Legislature. 

The clerks of the Circuit Court, Messrs. Albert Akers 
and Nat. F. Dortch, officiated as clerks of the Law Court. 

We subjoin the following list of United States Senators 
and Representatives from Davidson County, with the num- 
ber of the Congres^s in which they served : 


V. — Andrew Jackson took his seat Nov. 22, 1797 ; re- 
signed 1798. 

v., IX., X.— Daniel Smith, Dec. 3, 1798, to March 3 
1799 ; Dec. 2, 1805, to March 3, 1809. 

XL— Jenkin Whiteside, May 29, 1809 ; resigned 1811 

XII., XIII.— George Washington Campbell, Nov. 4 
1811; resigned Feb. 9, 1814. 

. .XIII.— Jesse Wharton, April 9, 1814, to March 2, 

XIV., XV.— George Washington Campbell, Dec. 4 
1815; resigned 1818. 

XVIII. — -Andrew Jackson, Dec. 1, 1823; resigned 

XXI.— John H. Eaton, Nov. 16, 1818 (XV. Cong.) 
to resignation, March, 1829. A resident of Williamson 
County previous to 1825. 

XXL, XXII., XXIII., XXIV., XXV.— Felix Grundy 
Dee. 7, 1829; resigned July 4, 1838. 

XXV.— Ephraim H. Foster, Dec. 3, 1838, to March 3 

XXVL— Felix Grundy, Dec. 2, 1839, to his death 
Dec. 19, 1840. 

XXVIL— Vacant. 

XXVIIL— Ephraim H. Foster, Dec. 4, 1843, to March 
3, 1845. 

Bell, Dee. 6, 1847, to March 3, 1859. 

XXXY in. — Vacant, 1863 to 1865. 

XXXIX., XL., XLL— Joseph S. Fowler, July 25, 
1866, to March 3; 1871. 

XLIL, XLIIL, XLIV.— Henry Cooper, March 4, 1871, 
to March 3, 1877. 

XLV.— Isham G. Harris, Oct. 15, 1877. 

IV.— Andrew Jackson, Dec. 5, 1796, to JIarch 3, 1797. 
v., VI.— William Charles Cole Claiborne, Nov. 23, 1797, 
to March 3, 1801. 



YIII., IX., X —George Washington Campbell, Oct. 17, 
1803, to Blarch 3, 1809. 

XI.— Robert AVeakley, May 22, 1809, to March 3, 1811. 

XII., XIII.— Felix Grundy, Nov. 4, 1811; resigned 

XIII., XIV.— Newton Cannon, Oct. 15, 1814, to 
March 3, 1817. 

XV.— Thomas Claiborne, Dec. 1, 1817, to March 3, 

XVI., XVII.— Newton Cannon, Deo. 6, 1819, to March 
3, 1823. 

XVIII., XIX.— Samuel Houston, Dee. 1, 1823, to 
March 3, 1827. 

John Bell, Dec. 3, 1827, to March 3, 1841. 

XXIX.— Edwin H. Ewing, Dec. 1, 1845, to March 3, 

XXX.— Washington Barrow, Dec. 6, 1847, to Blarch 3, 

XXXI.— Andrew Ewing, Dec. 3, 1849, to March 3, 

XXXII.— James M. Quarles, Dec. 1, 1851, to March 
3, 1853. 

XXXIII., XXXIV., XXXV.—Fclix K. Zollicoffer, 
Dec. 5, 1853, to March 3, 1859. 

XXXVI.— James M. Quarles, Dec. 5, 1859, to March 
3, 1861. 

XXXVIII.— rac(?H<, Dec. 7, 18()3, to March 3, 1865. 

XL.— John Trimble, Nov. 21, 1867, to March 3, 1869. 

XLL— William F. Prosser, March 4, 1869, to March 3, 

XLIII. — Horace H. Harrison, Dec. 1, 1873, to March 
3, 1875. 


The following-named persons served as members of the 
Constitutional Conventions from this county : 


convened at Knosville, January 11th, and adjourned 
Feb. 6, 1796. Hon. William Blount, President ; William 
Maclin, Secretary ; John Sevier, Jr., Reading and Engross- 
ing Clerk. 

Delegates from Davidson. — John McNairlv, Andrew 
Jackson, James Robertson, Thomas Hardeman, Joel Lewis. 

Of the two members from each county appointed by the 
Convention to draft the Constitution, Hon. John McNairy 
and Hon. Andrew Jackson were appointed for Davidson. 


convened at Nashville, May 19th, and adjourned Aug. 30, 
1834. William B. Carter, President; William K. Kill, 

Delegates from Davidson. — Francis B. Fogg, Robert 
Weakley. Three only of the members of this Convention 
from the whole State are living at this writing, viz. : Francis 
B. Fogg, of Davidson ; West H. Humphreys, of Fayette ; 
and Boiling Gordon, of Hickman. 



Status of the Legal Profession — List of Admissions to the Davidson 
County Bar — Bar Association — Biographical Slietches of Prominent 
Lawyers and Judges. 

From the earliest period of the history of our country 
the legal profession has constituted a most valuable and 
important element in society. In all countries where ju- 
risprudence has reached the dignity of a science, it has 
become more complicated and minute in its ramifications 
from one generation to another, extending through all the 
frame-work of society, from the greatest to the least of 
human concerns, and exerting an omnipresent spell and 
power second only to that of religion itself To people 
thus educated reverence for the law becomes a powerful 
and controlling sentiment, and this reverence attaches in 
a very large degree to the outward exponents and officers 
of the law, whose duty it is to expound and apply its 
principles, to pronounce its authoritative judgments, and 
to enforce and execute its mandates. 

In proportion as a country is free or despotic, in propor- 
tion as her laws are oppressive or just and beneficent, 
does this reverence become a fear and a dread, or, on the 
other hand, a loving and cordial appreciation of that which 
is designed to subserve the highest ends of justice and 
liberty among the people. Hence a very different feeling 
prevails towards lawyers and judges in a free country 
from that which exists in a country ruled more or less by 
despotic power. In the one case they are dreaded as more 
or less the tools and agents of irresponsible and arbitrary 
rulers ; in the other they are loved and venerated as the 
wise and just executors of laws of their own enactment, 
based upon an authority emanating from the people them- 
selves and designed to promote the welfare of the humblest 
citizen. Especially does this reverence become a cordial 
and an affectionate sentiment, and promotive of the highest 
influence for good, when the characters of these legal ex- 
ecutors become conspicuous for honor, for patriotism, for 
eminent abilities, for learning, for high culture, and for all 
the domestic and social virtues. 

In a free country, like our own, members of the legal 
profession exert an influence which they can nowhere else 
attain. They are not merely expounders and adminis- 
trators of the law, but law-makers also; not only counselors 
and jurists, but legislators as well. It is not only a fact 
apparent at the present time that a large proportion of the 
members of our legislative bodies, both State and national, 
are lawyers, but it has always been so from the foundation 
of our government. The fact did not escape the observa- 
tion of that great statesman, Edmund Burke, who remarked 
on a very grave and interesting occasion in Parliament, 
when our national struggle for independence was in progress, 
that in both the national and colonial Legislatures, and in 
the first Congress of the Union, a much larger proportion 
of lawyers wore occupants of seats in those bodies than had 
been elsewhere known. This order of things, which began 
with the first legislative bodies of our government, has 
continued to the present time in all the States of the 



The influential bur of Diividson County has furnished a 
, striking illustration of this rule, from the time when Jack- 
son and Grundy, Campbell and Whiteside, Houston and 
S Peyton, Bell and Foster, Cooper and Harris, and many 
other bright lights, among whom are the Browns, the Ew- 
ings, the Claibornes and the Trimbles, carried their great 
talents and abilities from the legal profession to the halls of 
Congress and the State Legislature. From this profession, 
too, how many have graduated up to the highest bench of the 
State and nation, and worn the judicial ermine with honor 
to themselves and their country ! 

On looking over the following sketches of lawyers and 
judges, it will be seen how large a proportion of them have 
been sent to the legislative bodies, both State and national. 
The plan of the present subject, the bench and bar of 
Davidson County, has been arranged in sueh a manner as 
to give first a list of the lawyers of the county, with dates 
of their admission to the bar, and then to follow the list 
with personal sketches of greater or less length of the more 
prominent and noticeable members. 


The following is a list of the members of tlie Davidson 
County bar, with the dates of their admission : 

1785. — William Grubbins. 

1789. — Andrew Jackson. 

1790. — James White, James Cole. 

1791. — Howell Tatum, Hopkins Lacy. 

1793. — James Dougherty. ■ 

1796. — Thomas Stuart, Gideon Davis Pendleton, John 
Brown, Joseph Herrendon. 

1797. — George Smith, Francis Hall, Robert Hamilton. 

1798. — John Hamilton, Preston Anderson, Howell 
. 1800. — John Dickson, Samuel Henry. 

1801.— Matthew Lodge. 

1802. — Peter Richardson Booker. 

1803.— Hutc'hins G. Burton. 

1804. — Robert Whyte, Thomas Overton, Washington 
L. Hannum, William Barton. 

1805.— George W. L. Marr, Robert F. N. Smith, Wil- 
liam Burton. 

1806.— John E. Beck, Thomas Swann, Thomas K. 
Harris, Jenkin Whiteside, Blount Robertson, Thomas H. 

1807. — William Sanders, Thomas Claiborne, L. D. 

1808.— Felix Grundy, Thomas E. Turnbull, Kinchon 
Turner, Eli Talbott, James Rucks, Oliver B. Hays. 
■ 1809.— Gabriel Moore, Joseph Phillips. 

1810. — Alfred H. Lewis, Lemuel P. Montgomery. 

1812.— Stockley D. Hays. 

1813.— Elias K. Kam, John G. Syms, Samuel Smith 
Hall, Thomas Washington. 

1814. — William R. Hess, Douglass J. Puckett, W^illiam 
Alexander, David Craighead, Henry Crabbo, Patrick H. 
Darby, James Trimble, Ephraim H. Foster. 

1815. — James G. Martin, John Bell. 

1816.— Robert Goodlett, John J. White, W. L. Brown, 
John A. Cheatham, Aaron V. Brown, Robert P. Dunlap. 

1817. — Robert H. Adams, George W. Gibbs, Argyle 
Campbell, Aaron V. Brown, Neill S. Brown, Morgan W. 

1818.- John Catron, Francis B. Fogg, James P. Clarke. 

1819. — Samuel Houston. 

1820. — John P. Erwin, George S. Yeager. 

1821. — David Barrow, Alfred Murray. • 

1822. — Alexander Barrow, Thomas A. Duncan, James 
C. Hays, William Stevens, William Cooper. 

1823. — Benjamin S. Litton, John L. Allen, Nelson Pat- 
terson, McCoy W. Campbell, Andrew J. Donelson, James 

1824. — Samuel Yerger, Baylie Peyton, Allen A. Hall, 
William E. Andrews, John H. Blartin. 

1825. — Thomas Haywood, John Colwell. 

1820. — Joseph J. Anthony. 

1827.— Henry Rutlidge, Thomas H. Fletcher, George 
Washington Barrow. 

1828. — George C. Childress, Samuel Hays, James P. 
Thompson, Andrew Bachus, Richard S. Williams. 

1829. — Orville Ewing, Felix Catron, George W. Foster, 
Samuel Watson, Henry A. Wise, William L. Washington, 
Thomas J. Lacy, Micajah Claiborne, John A. Walker. 

1830. — Thomas C. Whiteside, William Woodson, John 
BI. Bass, John Bruce, James I. Dozier, Henry B. Shaw, 
John R. Shenault. 

1831.— Charles D. Shewsbury, William T. Brown, Ben- 
jamin Patton, George R. Fall, David Campbell. 

1833.— William F. White. 

1834.— Joseph W. Perkins, John M. Hays, John Chil- 
dress, Charles Scott, John W. Goode, Robert B. Castleman, 
J. S. Yeager. 

1835. — Henry Hollingsworth, David Sheldon, John W. 
Barker, Augustus L. Hays, John Trimble, Nathaniel Bax- 
ter (judge), Godfrey BI. Fogg. 

1836.— Thomas T. Smiley. 

1838. — Isaac F. Anderson, Jordan G. Stokes. 

1841. — John M. Lea, James Campbell. 

(Incorporated May 10, 1S75.) 

1840.— M. C. Goodlett. 
1841.— W. F. Cooper. 
1847.— D. F. Wilkin. 
1854. — Baxter Smitli. 
1857. — Horace H. Harrison. 
1858.— Blorton B. Howell. 
1858.— Thomas H. Malone. 
1859. — James Chamberlin. 
18G0.— R. McP. Smith. 
I860.— G. P. Thruston. 
1861.— Thomas L. Dodd. 
1863.— D. W. Peabody. 
1864.— John Frizzell. 
1865. — Andrew Allison. 
1866. — John Lawrence. 
1866.— G. M. Fogg, Jr. 
1866. — John Lellyett. 
1866.— Matthew W. Allen. 
1866.— Frank T. Reid. 



1867.— Nicholas D. Malone. 

1867.— John M. Gaiit. ' 

1867.— T. M. Stcger. 

1867.— Nathaniel Baxter. 

1867.— J. B. Brown. 

1867.— Edwai-d Baxter. 

1867. — Thomas M. Osmcnt. 

1868.— James D. Park. 

1869.— John Ruhm. 

1869.- C. D. Berry. 

1869.— Wirt Hughes. 

1869.- James Trimble. 

1869.— M. T. Brjard. 

1870.— William E. McNeilly. 

1870.— J. C. Cartwright. 

1870.— William K. McAlistcr. 

1870.— S. Watson, Jr. 

1870. — Harry Harrison. 

1871.— H. D. Smith. 

1871.— E. T. Morris. 

1871.— Robert S. Overall. 
. 1872.— A. H. Lusk. 

1872.- — George H. Vaughan, West H. Humphreys. 

1873._J. C.^^Bradford." 

1 873. — James S. Frazer. 

1874.— J. M. Dickinson. 

1874.— Robert B. Lea. 

1874. — Jere Baxter. 

1874. — John L. Kennedy. 

1876. — Edward Gawnaway. 

1876.— William G. Brien, Jr. 

1876.— George C. Hunt. 

1877.— Lewis B. McWhirter. 

1878.— T. E. Matthews. 

1879.- J. P. Helms. 

1879.— Paul Jones. 

To this list should be added the following-named mem- 
bers of the Davidson bar, not members of the Bar Associ- 
ation, the dates of whose admission to the bar have not 
been obtained. Some of them are noticed in sketches fur- 
ther on in this chapter : J. B. White, Neill S. Brown, 
Thomas T. Smiley, George Stubblefield, Jackson B. White, 
George Maney, Mattheiv W. Allen, M. M. Brien, Nathaniel 
Baxter, J. W. Ilorton, Jr., E. H. East, John C. Grant. 

The above list of admissions to the Davidson County bar 
contains the names of but three lawyers of any consider- 
able note up to 1806 : these are Andrew Jackson, Thomas 
Stuart, and Robert Whyte. With respect to Jackson, it 
may be remarked that he exhibited no special greatness 
either as a lawyer or as a jurist, nor did he remain long in 
the profession. His taste, his ambition, and his providen- 
tial calling led him into other fields in which his great 
talents were fully displayed, and where he won imperishable 
I'enowu. The life of Gen. Jackson, as a hero, patriot, and 
statesman, will be found in another part of this work. It 
is only necessary to record here the few brief facts respect- 
ing his early career as a lawyer and judge. He read law 
and obtained license to practice before emigrating from 
liis native State. When he came to Nashville he was ad- 
mitted to the Davidson County bar, at the date above given, 

1789, and practiced in the courts here with other early 
lawyers several years. For about six years he exercised 
the functions of judge of the Supreme Court of Tennessee, 
from the autumn of 1798 to the month of June, 1804, 
when he was appointed major-general, and was succeeded 
on the bench by Hon. John Overton. 



Judge Overton was born in Louisa Co., Va., the 9th day 
of April, 1766. His family was not wealthy, and his edu- 
cation was only such as could be procured at that day in; 
the best common schools of Virginia. While a youth he 
taught school for several years, chiefly for the purpose of 
educating his brothers and sisters ; but his attention sooHi ' 
became directed towards the profession of the law, in which 
numbers of his family connections, the Wythos, Tazwells, 
and Currs, had become highly distinguished. He removed 
to Kentucky before his majority, studied law there, but, it 
is believed, began the practice in Nashville, Tenn. The lit- 
igation then was chiefly concerning the titles to real estate, 
and old lawyers, as well in Kentucky as Tennessee, will re- 
member that there was a good deal of it, and very profitable 
it was too. A good land-lawyer was the highest eminence 
of the profession. Judge Overton at once obtained a full 
practice, and by his industry and atteijtion to business kept 
it till he was transferred to the bench. , A system of law, 
based upon the acts of 1777 and 1783 of the North Caro- 
lina Legislature, disposing of lands in the Territory of Ten- 
nessee, had to be built up by the bar and bench of Tennes- 
see, and Overton, as lawyer and judge, exercised considerable 
influence in moulding the system to suit the wants and ne- 
cessities of the new community. The English law-books 
failed to afford a precedent for settling the titles to boun- 
daries of adjacent wild lands, involving the questions of 
special entries, younger grants, elder entries, the ages -of 
marks on trees, the authority of plats to control the calls in 
grants, and various other points springing from the peculiar 
system adopted by North Carolina; and hence the difficulty 
of the task which had to be encountered by our earlier 
judges. The constructions of our land-laws, as ruled 
whilst Overton was on the bench, became established law, 
and the points arc not now controverted in the courts. He i 
was conscientious in the discharge of his duties, giving to 1 
every case, no matter how small the amount involved, a 
patient attention, and stucli/ing it before he delivered an 
opinion. His private journal, now in the possession of his 
son-in-law, shows that during vacation he was constantly 
engaged in studying the cases which had been laid over 
from the last term, and there is an abstract of the principal 
points of almost every case that was before the court whilst 
he was a member. 

He was appointed supervisor of the revenue of the United 
States, and held the office till it was abolished by Congress. 
The office was one of responsibility and trust, and, as a mark 
of his industry, it may be proper to state that he kept copies 
of every letter to his various agents, his correspondence with 
the department at Washington, and of even the minutest 
transaction, so that a correct statement of the business and 
accounts of his office could now, after the lapse of half a 
century, be accurately made. 




In 1804 he was elected a judge of the Superior Court of 
Law and Equity, in place of Gen. Jackson, wlio resigned, 
and held the office till the abolition of the court on the 1st 
day of January, ISIO. During this period Judge Overton 
was also appoiiiteJ by the Legislature as agent to confer 
with the Legislature of North Carolina respecting the land- 
titles of the separate States, and to make such agreement, 
stipulation, or compromise as might be necessary. The ap- 
pointment evidences the estimation in which Judge Overton 
was held as a land-lawyer. In November, 1811, he was 
elected a judge of the Supreme Court in place of Hon. 
George W. Campbell, who was transferred to the Senate of 
the United States, and continued to discharge the duties of 
said office till his resignation in 1816. Overton's Reports 
run through a series of years from 1791 to 1817, and arc 
valuable as a repository of the land-law, now almost obso- 
lete, however, as tlie healing power of the statute of limita- 
tions has cured all titles originally defective, and titles at 
this day are seldom controverted except on principles arising 
from irregular sales, the construction of wills, etc. 

After Judge Overton's retirement from the bench he 
practiced in important cases, and used the same industry 
and energy that had characterized his early professional life. 
His private business also required his attention, and that, 
with his limited but important practice, kept him constantly 
engaged. He never knew what it was to be idle, and always 
did well what he undertook. Judge Overton and Gen. Jack- 
son wore throughout their lives firm and unwavering friends, 
and it was singular that individuals differing in many points 
of character should have such an ardent attachment for each 
other. Gen. Jackson seldom advised with anybody but Judge 
Overton, and it is said, by those who know, that it was his 
custom to consult Judge Overton upon all important sub- 
jects ; he certainly had a very high respect for his opinion, 
and a confidential correspondence was carried on between 
them till the day of Judge Overton's death. During the 
Presidential campaigns of 182-1 and 1S28, Judge Over- 
ton labored assiduously for the success of Gen. Jackson. 
He had the happiness to see his early and fast friend elected 
to the Presidency, and immediately withdrew from political 
strife. Tlie relations of Gen. Jackson and Judge Overton 
were most intimate and confidential and unreserved on all 
subjects of men and measures. A few days before Judge 
Overton's death he caused all the correspondence of Gen. 
Jackson, embracing a life-time (for Judge Overton never 
lost or mislaid a paper or letter), to be brought to his bed- 
side. Political excitement was then at the highest pitch, 
and the war between Jackson and the Bank was raging. 
He reflected that, after his death, many of those letters, in- 
tended for his own eye, might fall into the hands of his 
friend's enemies, and garbled extracts find their way to the 
public, — such a thing had happened and might happen 
again, — few would be living wlio could explain the circum- 
stances under which they were written, time and the events 
of life might have induced a change of opinion concerning 
men and things, and with a singular prudence he com- 
mitted the correspondence to the flames, remarking that, 
living or dead, ho would not betray the confidence of a 
friend. It is a matter of regret that this correspondence 
was not preserved and trusted to a judicious and impartial 

historian. It would have developed the true character of 
Gen. Jackson, and have shown that, in addition to all the 
honorable, noble, and generous qualities of which the world 
is well aware in the character of that groat man, he was also 
a reflecting, thinking, prudent man, — there was a degree 
of coolness in all his rashness. 

Judge Overton died the 12th day of April, 1833, at his 
residence, near Nashville. He was an influential citizen. 
He had some peculiar idiosyncrasies of character, but was 
universally respected and loved by his family and a chosen 
body of friends, who cherished for him the warmest affec- 
tion. His success in the pursuits of life was very great, and, 
though economical in the smallest particulars, he was liberal 
towards all public improvements and institutions, and by his 
will gave handsome legacies to many of his wife's relatives. 
He predicted the success of George S. Yerger, of Missis- 
sippi, as a lawyer, and gave him his law library, the largest 
then in the West ; he was of a discriminating mind, and 
read character well. Though his life was emphatically one 
of business, overflowing with private and public duties, and 
though his large private interests often brought him into con- 
flict with others, no word of suspicion was ever whispered 
against his character, and his children are justly proud of the 
name ho has left them. 

Judge Overton left three children, two of whom, a son 
and a daughter (Mrs. John M. Lea), reside in Nashville ; 
the other daughter married Mr. R. C. Brinkley, of Mem- 
phis, and has departed this life. 


Thomas Stuart was an active, industrious, and laborious 
lawyer; was for many years judge of the Circuit Court at 
Nashville, and retired from that position upon the adoption 
of the Constitution of 183-4. He was then a very old man, 
and retired to his farm in Williamson County. He practiced 
law in a feeble way in the courts of that county, coming 
into court on crutches, which he was obliged to use from 
an accidental injury. He died, it is believed, about 1840. 

Robert Whyte was a Scotchman by birth, and a very 
excellent lawyer and judge. He vacated the bench of the 
Supreme Court in 1834 upon the adoption of the new Con- 
stitution, having served as an honored judge for many 
years. He was then a feeble old man ; he lived to a great 
age, but appeared no more in public life after his retire- 
ment from the bench. He was a laborious and accurate 
lawyer, and exceedingly tenacious of his views and opin- 
ions. His opinions as a judge are remarkable for laborious 
research and accuracy. (See Haywood's, Peck's, Blartin 
and Yerger's, and 1 Yerger's " Reports.") 

" Jenkin Whiteside," says Governor Foote, in his " Bench 
and Bar of the South and Southwest," " has come down to 
the men of this generation exclusively as a great land- 
laiDijer. No one was more familiar than he with all that 
Coke and Blaokstone and the other English writers have 
said in their labored and profoundly-reasoned treatises upon 
the laws of real property. No man had mastered more 



fully tlian himself the principles involved in the doctrine 
of executory devises and contingent remainders. No law- 
yer of his time could talk more learnedly and luminously 
upon the celebrated rule in S/icIleys case ; and he mani- 
fested a steady energy and masterly dexterity in the man- 
agement of all the sharp points and subtle devices that 
appertain to the trial of actions of ejectment, which things 
gave him many advantages over a sluggish and less wily 
adversary. No man could be more conversant than was 
Jenkin Whiteside with the whole history of land-titles in 
Tennessee, as well as with the operations of the land-ofBoes 
both in that State and North Carolina, — a species of knowl- 
edge quite indispensable to success in the arduous but 
profitable vocation in which ho had enlisted, and upon 
which his attention had been concentrated in a manner 
rarely exemplified. He was undoubtedly a man of vigor- 
ous understanding, of wonderful sagacity and acuteness, 
devoted much to money-making, and especially delighting 
in what was known as speculation in uncultivated lands, of 
which he had, in one way and another, at difl"erent times, 
accumulated largo bodies, the titles to which were not 
rarely involved in troublesome and expensive litigation." 
From an unfortunate speculation in what was called for 
many years Balch and Whiteside's addition to Nashville, 
he died insolvent, and his estate became the subject of 
very extensive litigation. He lived and died a bachelor. 
He is described as a man " of rough and unimposing ex- 
terior, of awkward and ungainly manners, and had no relish 
whatever for those elegant and refined pursuits which are 
understood to distinguish polished and aristocratic com- 
munities." Still, he is admitted by all who knew him to 
have been " civil and unobtrusive in his general demeanor, 
not deficient in public spirit, and of a coarse and unpre- 
tending cordiality which made him many friends and no 

THO.AI.iS 11. BEXTOy. 
Thomas H. Benton, it will be seen from our list, was 
admitted to the bar of this county in 1806. He came from 
North Carolina, where he had received a collegiate education, 
and taught a small school upon Duck River, not many miles 
from Franklin, in which latter place he subsequently began 
the practice of law. From the first it is said that Mr. Benton 
was " much fonder of political pursuits than of the study 
of law-books, and greatly preferred the making of stump- 
speeches to the argument of legal causes." He, however, 
possessed great powers, as is clearly evinced in his future 
almost unbounded control of politics in the Territory and 
State of Missouri, and his unrivaled career of thirty years in 
the United States Senate, where he was regarded as the peer 
of Clay, Webster, and Calhoun. " No man," says a late 
writer, " was ever more industrious, more persevering, or 
more fertile in expedients than Mr. Benton." The same 
writer, however, thinks that " no amount of rhetorical train- 
ing could ever have enabled Mr. Benton to cope in lively 
and splendid forensic eloquence with such persons as Mr. 
Clay or Felix Grundy," or in legal argumentation " to rival 
the condensed vigor of a Marshall or a Pinckney." " The 
ready and rapid flow of choice and appropriate words," says 
our author, " and of earnest, clear, and forcible logic, some- 
times bordering upon metaphysical subtlety, and occasionally 

embellished and adorned with sublime generalities, to which 
Mr. Calhoun was indebted for so large a portion of his fame 
and influence, seemed ever to arouse in Mr. Benton a feel- 
ing allied to astonishment, not unmixed with an emulation 
nearly akin to resentment." As a writer Mr. Benton is 
accorded great excellence : " AVhen he chose to do so, he 
could express himself on paper with a clearness and precision 
not often equaled. He had command of a simple, nervous, 
and idiomatic English style which few of his own genera- 
tion could boast." 

For a year or two of Mr. Benton's residence in Tennes- 
see he was the. law-partner of the Hon. Oliver B. Hays, 
who became a resident of Nashville in 1808, but whose 
name does not appear on our list of admissions at the bar. 
He was probably admitted in Baltimore, where he had 
studied law before he came here. Mr. Benton probably 
removed from Tennessee on account of his difficulty with 
Gen. Jackson respecting the duel of his brother, Jesse, about 
1810. He was exceedingly ambitious, and could not brook 
the ascendency of his great rival. He therefore concluded 
that, so far as his own personal competition was concerned, 
he would withdraw from the immediate arena, and leave 
Jackson " alone in his glory." He removed to St. Louis, 
where he had things very much his own way, and erected a 
throne on which he reigned without a rival for the rest of 
his days. The career of Mr. Benton in politics is one of 
the most remarkable in the history of our country.* 


This eminent jurist and statesman was born in Berkeley 
Co., Va., on the 11th of September, 1777, and died in 
Nashville, Tenn., Dec. 19, 1S40. His father was an 
Englishman, and settled in Kentucky in the year 1780. 
Felix was educated at Bardstown Academy, and was ad- 
mitted to the practice of law in the courts of Kentucky, 
where he soon attained a high reputation. He was a 
member of the Constitutional Convention of Kentucky in 

1799 ; a member of the Legislature of that State from 

1800 to 1805 ; was appointed judge of the Supreme Court 
in 1806, and soon after made chief justice. 

Such is a brief outline of his record in Kentucky. In 
the winter of 1807-8 he removed to Nashville, where his 
fame had pr^jceded him, and for a long series of years main- 
tained a position at the head of the bar as a criminal ad- 
vocate. He was a member of Congress from 1811 to 
1814: ; was in the Tennessee Legislature for several years; 
was United States senator from 1829 to 1838, and elected 
to the same oSice in 1810. He was a strong Jackson man, 
and was United States attorney-general from July 5, 1838, 
to Dec. 1, 1840. 

From the sources of information within our reach re- 
specting Mr. Grundy's forensic character and reputation 
we select the following. Hon. Edwin H. Ewing, who has 
kindly furnished us valuable notes on a number of the 
leading members of the bar of which he himself has long 
been an honored member, says of Mr. Grundy, — 

" He was a fluent and dignified speaker, and ranked high 
in Tennessee as an orator, an adroit and, skillful practitioner, 

■•■■■ See " Thirty Years in tlie Senate." 

■0/&y /^y 




especially on the criminal side of the law. He was a keen 
jutliie of men and motives. His manner of speaking would 
now be considered somewhat aiSFected and stilted ; it was, 
however, very effective for its time. He had very little 
learning as a lawyer, but was exceedingly quick and skill- 
ful in taking up and appropriating the knowledge of others. 
Of his more public history as a member of Congress of both 
houses and as attorney-general of the United States, I need 
not speak." 

Judge Guild says, " Felix Grundy will always rank 
among the greatest men this century has produced. He 
was Tennessee's greatest criminal advocate, and he was the 
peer of any the United States has produced. He was not 
only a great lawj'cr, but was a powerful stump-speaker, and 
ranked with Henry Clay as an orator before he removed 
from Kentucky to Tennessee, which occurred about the 
year 1807. He had been a distinguished member of the 
Kentucky Legislature, a member of the convention that 
framed the Constitution, and chief justice of that State. 
He was a member of the United States House of Repre- 
sentatives from Tennessee, and sustained the war of 1812 
with great eloquence. He was a member of the Tennessee 
Legislature in 1820, and was the author of the relief 
measures adopted by that body for the purpose of miti- 
gating the severity of the revulsion of 1819. He was 
elected to the United States Senate, and was a tower of 
strength in that body to Gen. Jackson's administration. 
He was attcrney-general under Mr. Van Buren's adminis- 
tration, the duties of which ho discharged with the same 
marked ability that he had brought to bear in every position 
he had accepted. 

" Judge Grundy was not what may be called a book man 
or a book-lawyer. To his fine voice and inimitable action 
thei-e was added a brilliant intellect, through which ran a 
vein of strong common sense. He was good at repartee, 
and his wit fairly sparkled. He possessed in a marked de- 
gree the power to arouse and sway the passions of the 
heart, to excite sympathy or indignation, to parry the blows 
of an adversary, and to carry his point by brilliant charge. 
He was a consummate judge of human nature, and this ren- 
dered him unrivaled in the selection of a jury. He was 
unsurpassed in developing the facts of a case, and wonder- 
ful in the cross-examination of a witness introduced against 
his client. He generally relied upon his associate counsel 
to bring into court the books containing the law of the 
case in which they were employed, and the law was read 
and commented upon by these associates. And then, when 
Mr. Grundy came to close the case, so clear were his de- 
ductions, so striking his illustrations, so systematically 
would he tear to pieces the superstructure of the opposing 
counsel, and so vividly portray the right and justice for 
which he contended, that all who heard him regarded him 
as the finest lawyer of that or any other age. So thor- 
oughly did he carry the crowd with him that he may be 
aptly likened to Paul when he made his great speech before 
King Agrippa, and extorted from that monarch the expres- 
sion, ' Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian.' 

" While I was reading law in Nashville, in 1821," says 
Judge Guild, " Judge Grundy and William L. Brown were 
engaged on the same side in an ejectment case involving 

the construction of the phrase, ' Being in possession of the 
land under a deed or assurance of title founded on a grant,' 
contained in the statute of limitations of 1796. Some 
judges held that the words ' founded on a grant' meant 
that the deed must be connected by a regular chain of title 
down to the grantee, while others held the meaning to be 
that the land must be granted, but the deed under which it 
was held need not be connected with the grant. This con- 
fiiot of opinion rendered the present case all the more impor- 
tant. The proof was all hoard, as also the title-papers, and 
the case was ready for argument. Judge Grundy had ex- 
pected to make the closing speech, as was usual with him 
in all cases in which he was employed, and had not exam- 
ined the law and the decisions bearing upon the suit. This 
he had left for Judge Brown to do, intending to avail him- 
self of that gentleman's research to enable him to make the 
closing argument. He requested Judge Brown to open 
the case, but he refused. Grundy appealed to Brown to 
open the alignment, but the latter pointedly refused to do 
so. Judge Grundy was therefore compelled to open the 
case, and this was the only occasion, as was said at the 
time, that he was ever known to make an utter failure. If 
Judge Brown had opened with his clear and exhaustive ex- 
position of the law, he would have laid the foundation upon 
which Judge Grundy would have built a brilliant and mas- 
terly argument. Judge Grundy was a great manager, and 
he relied for success upon his knowledge of men, his bril- 
liant wit, and his unrivaled eloquence, more than upon the 
dry details of the law. . . . 

" The happy personal relations between Mr. Grundy and 
Mr. Clay were never seriously disturbed by their political 
differences, and each frequently indulged in sallies of wit 
and humor at the expense of the other in their political 

"In the Presidential campaign of 1840, Mr. Clay, Mr. 
Crittenden, and other leading Whig orators visited Nash- 
ville, and held forth at a great barbecue prepared for the 
occasion. They came first into East Tennessee and crossed 
over the mountains. When speaking at Knoxville, Mr. 
Clay said when he came through Cumberland Gap into 
Tennessee one of the first. questions he asked was, ' Where 
is ray old friend, Felix Grundy ? And,' he continued, ' on 
being informed that he was away down in Alabama, making 
speeches for Mr. Van Buren, I raised my hands and ex- 
claimed, " Ah, yes ! still pleading the cause of criminals !" ' 

" When Mr. Grundy returned to Nashville he was in- 
vited to address the people of Rutherford, at Murfrecsboro'. 
He availed himself of the opportunity to say that he had 
seen the report of Mr. Clay's Knoxville speech in the 
newspapers, and regretted that he was not there to reply to 
it, or that he could not now make a reply in Mr. Clay's 
hearing. He said it was true he had acquired some repu- 
tation as a criminal lawyer, and expressed a belief that he 
still retained all his professional faculties; but he felt well 
assured that if Mr. Clay should be indicted and brought 
before a court of strict justice for all his political offenses, 
and he (Mr. G.) were to be retained as his counsel, it would 
prove to be another Bennett case. 

" This elicited a round of applause that made the welkin 
ring, for everybody seemed to know the fact that of the 



many causes of criminals managed by Mr. Grundy, he never 
lost but one, and that was the cause of a notoriously guilty 
client- by the name of Bennett, who had murdered a Mr. 
Hays in Wilson County. For many years the case was 
continued in the courts, and at last, by a change of venue, 
Bennett was convicted and hanged in Williamson County." 


[We extract the following sketch of Judge Haywood, 
the earliest historian of Tennessee, from the Southwestern 
Laio Journal and Reporter for June, 1844:] 

" John Haywood, the subject of the present memoir, 
was born in the county of Halifax, in the State of North 
Carolina, on the 16th of March, 1762, of a femily engaged 
in agriculture. His ancestors emigrated originally from 
England, and settled at an early period in the city of New 
York, whence they subsequently removed to Norfolk, Va. 
The latter town was almost entirely consumed by fire in the 
year 17 — , and the fortune of William, his grandfather, was 
involved in the general ruin. With a view to retrieve his 
losses, he soon after withdrew from this ill-fated town to 
the infant colony of North Carolina, and established him- 
self near the town of Halifax, on the Roanoke. Egbert, 
the father of John, was a respectable farmer in moderate 
circumstances, and followed his occupation in the same 
neighborhood. He discharged with credit to himself such 
county offices as are usually filled by country gentlemen, 
but was by no means remarkable for a love of letters. He 
delighted rather in the amusements of the chase, and other 
field .sports which are known to possess so many attractions 
for those who ' faterna rura bovibius exercent sitis.' From 
the too great love of these diversions, united with the low 
state of learning in the colonies, it is probable that the 
family name, which has been borne by very distinguished 
individuals in England, fell into obscurity for a time in 
America. Previous to the Revolution few of the family 
seemed to have enjoyed the smiles of executive favor, or to 
have been members of the public councils of the country, 
or in any way distinguished for literary attainments. 

" William, a paternal uncle, from whom the Haywoods 
of Raleigh, N. C., derived their lineage, was the only one 
whose fortune it was, previous to the Revolution, to enjoy 
an office of distinction. He was a member of the Execu- 
tive Council. His descendants have always filled since that 
time the highest offices of the State, one of whom was a 
distinguished United States senator in 1844. John, the 
subject of our brief memoir, with limited means of instruc- 
tion, and deprived of the invaluable blessings of a collegiate 
education, by indefatigable industry, and ardent, exclusive 
devotion to the profession he had chosen, has acquired for 
himself a reputation which, if less brilliant than that of 
many of his contemporaries whose lot it was to enroll their 
names on the bright page of their country's glory, will be 
equally appreciated for the lasting and substantial benefits 
it has conferred on his native and adopted State. He may 
be considered a pioneer of the laio. He was the first 
lawyer and judge who reported cases decided in the courts 
of North Carolina and Tenne.ssee, and in future time, on 
account of his Teamed decisions, will be regarded as the 
leading authority on all questions which involve doubt in 

the organic laws of these infant States. Doubtless the in- 
dividuals who have mainly contributed by their industry 
and learning to fix the moaning and supply the deficiencies 
of our fundamental institutions have done as much service 
and deserve no less praise than the most gifted of those who 
have held more distinguished stations while engaged in 
framing them. 

" The names of Coke, Hale, and Holt, the pioneers of 
English law, are not less respected, nor are the benefits 
derived from their exertions likely to be sooner forgotten 
by their countrymen than the services of their political 
contemporaries. Who at present ever hears the names of 
the signers of the great English charter ? and, indeed, most 
of those inscribed on our own bright roll have nearly faded 
from the i-ecoUections of the people. Not so with our dis- 
tinguished judges ; Wythie, Marshall, Haywood, are as 
fiimiliar in the mouths of the people as household words. 

" We have said thus much to encourage the diligent 
student with the hope of ample reward, who with pure am- 
bition exclusively devotes himself to his profession, by the 
example of one who made it the sole business of his life, — 
his only pursuit. He was contented with the honors to be 
derived from his profession alone, and owes whatever repu- 
tation he has attained to his untiring application and great 
diligence in its prosecution. 

" Of his early education there is not much to be said, for 
of this he had but little. His' father, being in moderate 
circumstances, had it not in his power, however much he 
might have inclined, to send him to a foreign country, or 
even to a neighboring province, for educatioii, which was 
the general practice at that time of the wealthy colonists. 
Enabled by their wealth to dispense with domestic institu- 
tions of learning, they illiberally failed to provide means 
of education for the gifted sons of their less fortunate 
neighbors. But this deficiency was in some measure sup- 
plied by the conductors of private academies, who were - 
generally well grounded in the branches they professed to 
teach, and the learned languages especially were thoroughly 
taught. To one of those in a neighboring county, con- 
ducted by an intelligent minister of the gospel, was he sent 
by his father at an early age to receive the rudiments of a 
learned education. In justice to the memory of this gen- 
tleman, whose name was Castle, it is not useless to remark 
that another individual, Mr. Harper, of Maryland, equally 
distinguished for his eminence in the legal profession, was 
educated at the same school. Honor to these humble bene- 
factors of mankind, without whose fostering care many a 
genius of the brightest talents would be left to wither 
under the blighting infiuence of poverty and neglect! 

" Here Haywood acquired the usual knowledge of Latin 
and Greek, geography, and the elements of mathematics. 
Of the higher branches of science, mental and moral phi- 
losophy, and physics, he learned but little, and perhaps 
nothing. In after-life, when he had attained distinction in 
his profession, he relaxed in his diligent pursuit of the law, 
and turned his attention to more agreeable studies. He 
made deep researches into history and theology, and became 
well acquainted with the general results of natural science. 
Tlius it is seen that on his return to his paternal abode he 
had traversed but few of the wide fields of human knowl- 



edge, and was but scantily prepared to thread with success 
the intricate mazes of a profession which requires almost 
universal knowledge. But so strong was the direction 
which his mind had received from nature towards legal 
pursuits that he soon after entered upon the task, under 
difficulties which to minds endowed with ordinary vigor and 
perseverance would have been unsurmountable. Less fa- 
vored than other individuals who from a humble beginning 
have risen to eminence by the vigor of their intellect and 
untiring industry, he had not the advantages of access to 
the librai-y of a friend or the benc:fit of legal tuition in a 
law3'er's office. In law he was his own instructor. Com- 
ing by some accident into possession of an old volume of 
Raymond's Reports, with this he commenced his study, 
thus pursuing a course the very reverse of ordinary stu- 
dents. They usually study the principles of the law, which 
they afterwards trace in their application to particular cases, 
while his vigorous intellect traveled at once through the de- 
tails of a case, deducing from it tKose great principles on 
which all law is founded. Nothing so strikingly marks the 
vigor of his mind and the enthusiastic ardor with which he 
entered upon his legal studies as the fact that he could 
master the extremely technical statements of Lord Ray- 
mond's Reports, interspersed as they are with the old Latin 
and French phrases which were in use in those times. 

" With no preparation, except" such as he had made by 
his own unaided genius, he began the practice of law in hii^ 
native county, and in a very short time took his stand by 
the side of such men as Gen. Davie, Nash, McCoy, Badger, 
and Martin, — men whose learning and ability had placed 
them at the head of the North Carolina bar. His first ar- 
gument before the Supreme Court of the State was made 
when he was about twenty-four years of age, and was said 
to have displayed as much learning and as comprehensive 
a view of the great landmarks of the law as any argument 
which had ever been made before it. From that time his 
services were engaged in all important causes, and he ad- 
vanced rapidly to professional honor, and secured a large 
share of professional emolument. 

" As attorney-general for the State, in the year 179-1, he 
had the address to procure a reconsideration of the opinion 
of the. judges of the Supreme Court in a case where the 
court had decided the act of 1793 unconstitutional, which 
authorized judgments to be taken by motion tvithout notice 
against defaulting public officers. After a most learned and 
elaborate argument from Haywood, the court reversed their 
judgment. Judge Macay remarking that he " had given 
such strong reasons that his objections were vanquished, 
and, therefore, that the attorney-general might proceed, — 
but yet that he did not very much like it." 1 Hay. R. 40. 
This was the first innovation on the common law allowing 
those summary proceedings by motion which are now so 
common in our courts; and the synopsis of the argument 
of Mr. Haywood, in Hay. R. 40-50, evinces thus early the 
power and vigor of his mind. 

" During the same year he was elevated to the bench of 
the Superior Courts of Law and Equity. He entered im- 
mediately on a vigorous discharge of his duties. In the 
five or six years during which he occupied a place on the 
bench, he collected with great care and published three 

volumes of reports of cases decided by the Superior Court 
of North Carolina from the year 1789 to 1798. In the 
decision of a great majority of these cases Mr. Haywood 
took part, either as counsel or judge. And throughout the 
whole range of subjects which arose in the establishment of 
the government subsequent to the Revolution, no great 
question arose which was not elucidated by his learning and 
generally determined by his great ability. As an instance 
of the eiFect which his reasoning had upon the current of 
decisions in North Carolina, as well as in Tennessee, we 
need only refer to the case of the State vs. Long, decided 
at Hillsborough, N. C, April, 1795 (Haywood R. 177, 
Battle's Ed.). This was an indictment against Long for 
larceny, on the authority of the English cases, that a bor- 
rowing with a fraudulent intent to steal the property bor- 
rowed would constitute larceny. Two of the judges went 
with the English authorities ; Judges Haywood and Williams 
held that in order to constitute the offense the property 
should have been taken invito domino; and Long was par- 
doned. To Haywood's report of this case he appended a 
note opposing the authority of the English modern cases, 
and contending for the law as laid down in Coke, Hale, and 
Hawkins. Upon the authority of this extra-judicial opinion 
of Judge Haywood, the courts of Tennessee (and of North 
Carolina, too, it is believed) have uniformly acted: first, in 
Braden's case, 2 Term (Overton's) R. 68, and then in 
Martin and Yerg., 526; Wright's case, 5 Yerg., 154; 
Kite's case, 9 Yerg. R., 205 ; Dodge vs. Brittain, Bleigs' 
R., 84. In Braden's case, Overton, judge, said, ' The 


State vs. Long, Hay., 197, is correct law, and the 

SIONS IN England, is incontrovertible.' But by an 
act of the Legislature of 21st of January, 1842, the law 
which had thus been established for fifty years was thrown 
aside, and the English law established in all its vigor. 

" But the ability and learning of Judge Haywood were 
nowhere so fully displaj'ed as in the celebrated case of the 
University of North Carolina vs. Toy & Bishop. The 
Legislature in 1789 conferred upon the university all the 
property which had or might hereafter escheat to the State ; 
but by an act of 1800 this right was attempted to be taken 
from the university, which was resisted by Judge 'Hay- 
wood, who was then at the bar. The law divesting the 
university was declared void and unconstitutional, and the 
rights of the university triumphantly sustained. 

" About the year 1800, Judge Haywood left the bench 
and entered again into the field of litigation, where he 
continued to add to the already unequaled reputation 
which he had acquired as a judge Giving himself up 
strictly to the business of his profession, and to those 
studies which enabled him so long to adorn it, he was en- 
abled to take the lead in all questions of constitutional and 
international law, and in the interpretation of the laws of 
descent, limitations, land-laws, etc., which arose in the 
courts of his native State. In the case of Crutchcr vs. 
Punnell (Murphey's R., 22), Judge Haywood's argument 
at the bar, in reference to the act of 1715, on the Statute 
of Limitation, had the effect to produce the decision ' that 
seven years' j^ossession without color of title will not bar an 



ejectment.' In reference to this argument Judge Murphey 
remarks (1 Murph. R., 30), ' that it had the efFeot of 
changing the current of decisions and unsettling the opin- 
ions of the profession as to the construction of the Act of 
Limitatio"ns, and at the distance of one hundred years after 
the passage of the act more diversity of opinion seems to 
exist as to its meaning and operation than at any former 
period. Twenty years after the Revolution the doctrine of 
color of title was introduced, which, being urged with 
ability, has supplanted the construction which had been 
given to -the act for a century.' Such a compliment from 
one who heard the argument and felt its force is the highest 
tribute to his learning and genius. 

"Having already secured the highest judicial and pro- 
fessional honor in his own State, and having acquired a 
respectable fortune, Judge Haywood in 1807 came to the 
county of Davidson and settled seven miles south of Nash- 
ville. Middle Tennessee was then the frontier of the 
West. Having doffed the judicial ermine in his native 
State, he came with his family and entered immediately 
upon the practice of his profession. He was then but 
little over forty years of age, and almost as well known in 
Tennessee as in North Carolina. As a judge he had 
already decided many of the questions which were arising 
in the courts of Tennessee, and was, perhaps, at that time 
more familiar with the Constitution and laws of both States' 
than any other member of the bar. Unlike most of the 
profession, he kept no oiEoe in town, but kept his office 
and library and received his clients at his residence in the 

" The leading members of the bar were then in the habit 
of attending the sessions of the Supreme Court at all the 
places for holding it, so that most of them were brought 
into immediate contact. Haywood, Grundy, Jackson, 
Whiteside, Robert Whyte, Hugh L. White, George W. 
Campbell, and others, were then the leading members of 
the Tennessee bar. The questions growing out of land- 
titles afforded a fruitful source of litigation, and in all these 
suits Judge Haywood was almost invariably retained. 

" When Judge Haywood came to Tennessee the pro- 
fession was much divided in reference to the construction 
of the act of 1797 esplaining the Statute of Limitations 
of 1715. The question involved in this statute had been 
decided in North Carolina, in the case of Crutchor vs. 
Parnell, 1 Murphey's R. 22. In that case the argument of 
Judge Haywood had the effect to produce the decision that 
seven years' possession, with a color of title, would bar an 
action of ejectment, and that it was not necessary to show 
a regular chain of title. The act of 1797 provided that 
' the act of 1715 should apply in all cases where any person 
or persons shall have had seven years' peaceable possession 
of any land by virtue of a grant, or deed of conveyance 
founded on a grant, and no legal claim by suit,' etc. The 
cases of Sawyer's lessee vs. Shannon, 1 Tenn. R. 4G5 ; Lil- 
lard vs. Elliot, Patten vs. Eaton, 1 Wheaton R. 476, and 
Hampton's lessee vs. McGinnis, 1 Tenn. R. 28G, were 
decided about the time Judge Haywood made his appear- 
ance at the bar of Tennessee, in which the doctrine of the 
connection of title seemed to be settled. The case of 
Weatherhead and Douglass vs. Bledsoe's heirs, reported in 2 

Tenn. 352, was the first leading case on the construction of 
this statute in which Judge Haywood took a part as counsel. 
A distinguished and able lawyer who was then at the bar 
thus describes the position of Judge Haywood in reference 
to this case : 

" ' No ease could have been more thoroughly investigated 
and ably argued at the bar than that of Weatherhead and 
Douglass vs. Bledsoe's heirs. By the time at which it came 
up for final adjudication many cases involving the same 
question were in progress in the Circuit Courts ; the sub- 
ject had been very' much discussed, both at the bar and 
elsewhere ; public attention was strongly directed to it, and 
the faculties of the profession had become quickened and 
invigorated, all their zeal and energy aroused, and all their re- 
sources stimulated into action, by the general interest which 
now began to be felt in the issue. All seemed to anticipate 
that a decisive battle was to be fought, and, however it might 
terminate, that the result would be most disastrous to some, 
most fortunate to others, and of very doubtful influence to 
the community at large. Jenkin Whiteside appeared as 
the great champion for Bledsoe's heirs and connection of 
title ; John Haywood for Weatherhead and Douglass and 
the doctrine of '■ color of title." A number of other pro- 
fessional gentlemen of less celebrity, but of various degrees 
of talent and acquirement, were arranged on both 'sides of 
this question. The leading counsel referred to were known 
■ each to advocate his own private opinion ; and they all 
brought to the discussion that tliorough knowledge of the 
.subject which, when united with great abilities, and with 
the expectations which hung upon the cause, was sure to 
produce an intellectual ■ display pre-eminently interesting 
and captivating. Such was truly the character of the dis- 
tinguished forensic contest which took place on that mem- 
orable occasion. The event of it has been told ; and that 
which to all human appearance now seemed the consumma- 
tion of the thing proved only a prelude to one of the most 
agitating and exacerbated controversies, perhaps, that ever 
grew out of a question which was purely judicial.' 

" But notwithstanding Judge Haywood's great talent, 
he lost this case, by the opinion of all the judges, except 
Judge Overton, dissenting. Soon after this opinion Judge 
Overton resigned and Cooke died, and their places were 
supplied by Robert Whyte and John Haywood, in the year 
181G. When Mr. Haywood became a judge of the Su- 
preme Court, although he stood alone on the subject of his 
doctrine of ' color of title,' he never yielded it. From that 
time until 1825 he persevered in his opposition to the con- 
struction of the Statute of Limitation which made a connec- 
tion of title necessary. From being alone in his view of 
this law. Judge Haywood found himself at last sustained 
by all the members of the court of five judges, with the 
exception of Judge Whyte, who was not to be moved from 
his opinion by popular feeling or the sophistry of legal 

" We have seen Judge Haywood establishing the doc- 
trine of ' color of title' in his native State, and unsettling, 
according to Judge Murphey, the current of decisions for 
more than a century, while we find him arrayed against and 
apparently overwhelmed by the force of a powerful opposi- 
tion, struggling for years against it, and finally establishing 



tho same doctrine in his adopted State. Much was due, no 
doubt, to the popular feeling which grew up in the country 
in favor of his construction of the law, wliich tended 
directly to establish the doubtful claims of many resident 
citizens of Tennessee against the superior claims of non- 

The same gentleman quoted above says, " Judge Hay- 
wood was a fine genius and a most powerful and unrivaled 
advocate. In tact and eloquence — such eloquence as 
reaches the heart and convinces the judgment — he had no 
equal in Tennessee. He was often employed with and 
against the late Felix Grundy in the most critical criminal 
cases, and it would not be saying too much, perhaps, to say 
that as an orator he was equal, if not superior to that dis- 
tinguished advocate. Both had been on the supreme bench 
of their respective States, and both came to Tennessee pre- 
ceded by the most brilliant reputation. Both were men of 
great learning and attainments, but in all the learning 
which pertained to his profession Judge Haywood stood 
far in advance of his great rival. He possessed inexhaust- 
ible stores of imagination, was quick and ready in argument, 
and prompt in reply. But withal his judgment was too 
much under the dominion of imaginative faculty, which 
gave to some of his opinions too great an air of eccentricity 
and uncertainty. He had many sympathies in common 
with his fellow-men, and highly cherished their good opinion, 
particularly of his own fame. He was ambitious in the 
highest degree, somewhat overbearing in his desire to be 
considered ' the Court,' and perhaps thought too highly of 
his own and too little of his brotiier-judgos' opinions, and 
acted and felt that he was the master-spirit in the settle- 
ment and' determination of all loading questions of juris- 
prudence. I do not think I should do him injustice if I 
should say he never delivered an opinion without desiring 
the presence of a large audience. 

" Withal, he was agreeable in his manners, fond of soci- 
ety, and entertaining to the highest degree in his conversa- 
tion. Although not educated in his youth in the sciences, 
be amassed a large amount of learning in reference to nat- 
ural history, astronomy, antiquarian research, relics, fossils, 
shells, and aboriginal history, which he gave to the world 
under the title of the ' Natural and Aboriginal History of 
Tennessee,' containing about four hundred pages. 

" He also found leisure to prepare a very minute though 
somewhat iuartistically arranged ' History of Tennessee,' 
in five hundred pages, from 1770 to 1795, embracing a 
variety of most interesting traditions, which he obtained 
from the first settlers of the Cumberland Valley. During 
his residence in Tennessee he reported three volumes of 
decisions, given while he was on the bench. He also 
prepared a manual for clerks and justices. 

" Another work which he published during his residence 
in Tennessee was entitled ' Tiie Evidences of Cliristianity.' 
It was much read in Tennessee at the time of its publica- 
tion. . . . It was a worksHi yoicj'i's. It embraced a variety, 
it might almost be said a medley^ of historical, traditional, 
scientific. Scriptural, and antiquarian learning. Taken in 
connection with his ' Natural and Aboriginal History of 
Tennessee,' it might be considered a wonderful production. 
They both dealt largely in the suj)crnatural and marvelous, 

giving accounts of earthquakes, dreams, ghosts, meteors, 
bones of giants and pigmies ; caves and strange and super- 
natural voices which were heard in the air ; and portents 
and signs and wonders ; but with all this there was mixed 
up much real and valuable information, displaying great 
historical and scientific research. These works have given 
rise to the common opinion that Judge Haywood was cred- 
ulous and superstitious, and his introduction into one of 
those works of a remarkable ghost story, with an apparent 
belief in its reality, has led many persons to say that he 
was a believer in ghosts ! The truth is, perhaps, that 
Judge Haywood, like Dr. Johnson and some other great 
men, could not entirely divest himself of a belief in the 
supernatural ; and it is probable, had he lived in the pres- 
ent day, he would, like many other distinguished judges, 
have been a believer in the sciences of phrenology, mes- 
merism, and clairvoyance. But it might as well be charged 
against the inimitable author of ' Waverley' that because he 
wrote the history of demonology and the wonderful story ~ 
of ' AVoodstock' he was a believer in witchcraft as to at- 
tribute superstition to Judge Haywood because he wrote 
the marvelous and wonderful things co'ntained in ' The Evi- 
dences of Christianity' and ' Aboriginal History of Tennes- 

" His information and learning were varied and exten- 
sive, and we might almost apply to him the language of 
Canterbury when describing King Henry's great attain- 
ments : 

*' ' Hear him but reason in divinity, 

And, all-admiring, with an inward wish, 

You would desire the king were made a prelate : 

Hear him debate of commonwealth affairs, 

You would say, it hath been all in all his study j 

List his discourse in war, and you should hear 

A fearful baltle rendered you in music; 

Turn him to any cause of policy. 

The Gordiau knot of it will be unloose, 

Familiar as his garter; that when he speaks, 

The air, a chartered libertine, is still, 

And the mute wonder lurketh in men's ears 

To steal his sweet and honeyed sentences.' 

Kjiiff Henri/ V. 

" From the moment when he entered the profession his 
mind and his energies were constantly directed to the im- 
provement and advancement of his private fortune and the 
attainment of distinction in his profession. Notwithstand- 
ing the whole vigor of his powerful mind seemed to have 
been directed to the science of jurisprudence, he was yet 
enabled to amass and leave to his children a very large 

" But few men possessed in a higher degree the elements 
which constitute a great jurist ; and had he been placed 
under circumstances of fortune and education more favor- 
able to the development of his faculties, he might, perhaps, 
have left more enduring monuments of his genius. As it 
was, however, he impressed his spirit upon the jurisprudence 
of Carolina and Tennessee, and contributed more than any 
other man to give it form and shape. From the year 1786, 
when he began the practice of his profession in his native 
State, to 1826, when he died, in this State, he has left in 
the reports of adjudications in these States evidences in 
every volume of his learning, ability, an-d indomitable 



energy of cliaracter. And even now liis opinions and 
arguments, whether right or wrong, are more cjuoted and 
relied upon in the courts of both these States than those of 
any other judge who has ever presided in them." 

Judge Haywood died on the 22d of December, 1826, at 
his residence near Nashville, after a few days' illness, in the 
sixty-fourth year of his age. His death was hastened by 
his extreme corpulency, which in his old age greatly har- 
assed him. He left three sons and three daughters. 

His children were Thomas Haywood, a lawyer by pro- 
fession and teacher of fine classical education, who lived 
and died in this county, at his residence near the Nolens- 
villc Turnpike, about six miles from Nashville, about 1868 ; 
Dr. George Haywood, a well-known physician of Marshall 
County, where ho died some years ago ; Dr. Egbert Hay- 
wood, who practiced in Brownville, Haywood Co., Tenn., 
where he acquired a fine reputation as a physician, and 
where he died. Of his three daughters, one married Dr. 
Moore, of Huntsville, Ala. ; one married Col. Jones, of 
Tuscumbia, Ala.; the third was the. wife of Col. Spotts- 
wood Jones, of Limestone Co., Ala. None of his descend- 
ants are now residing in Davidson by the name of Hay- 

Upon the meeting of the Supreme Court on the first 
Monday in January, 1827, the late Hon. Felix Grundy 
ofi'ered the following preamble and resolutions, which were 
adopted : 

" Whereas, The Hon. John Haywood, one of the judges 
of this court, departed this life on the 22d of December 
last, as an evidence of that high regard justly due to his 
legal acquirements and extensive erudition, and the great 
public services rendered to his country, in a long life de- 
voted to the profession of the law, of which he was the 
pride and ornament, — 

" Therefore, 1st. It is ordered by the court, with the 
unanimous assent of the bar, that the court and the several 
oflicers wear crape on the left arm for the space of thirty 

" 2d. That a similar proceeding be recommended to all 
the inferior jurisdictions of the State. 

" 3d. And that these resolutions be entered on the 
minutes of this court." 


James Trimble, counselor and attorney-at-law, was born 
in 1781, in Rockbridge Co., Va., a Scotch-Irish settlement 
famous for its schools and churches and its self-dependent 
people, and their patriotism during the war of independence. 
His ancestors — the Trimbles and Alexanders — were plain, 
educated, and religious people in the middle class of life. 
The Trimbles of Oiiio and Kentucky — two of whom were 
members of the United States Senate, one a justice of the 
United States Supx-eme Court, and several members of the 
lower house of Congress — were connections. Dr. Archibald 
•Alexander and his sons, well-known divines at Princeton 
College, New Jersey, were also connections on his mother's 

James Trimble was educated at Washington College, 
East Tennessee. He studied law at Staunton, Va., and 
settled at Knoxville, E. Tenn., the seat of government of 

the State at that time. He was soon thereafter chosen a 
clerk of the General Assembly. 

In 1809 he was elected a member of that body from 
Knox County. 

In 1810 he was elected a State circuit judge. 

In 1813 he came with his family to Nashville to reside, 
where he opened a law-oiEce, and followed his profession 
until his death. 

While a member of the General Assembly he procured 
the charter of the Nashville Female Academy, and upon 
its organization became an active trustee thereof. 

He was also a trustee of Cumberland College, now the 
University of Nashville, and in connection with Judge 
Henry Crabb, an eminent member of the Nashville bar, 
was active in reviving the college in 1823, and he was in- 
strumental in procuring as its president Philip Lindsley, 
one of the most famous and distinguished educators of the 
Mississippi valley. 

James Trimble was known throughout the State as one 
of its leading minds, and as one of the leading members of 
the Nashville bar. He ranked with Whiteside, Overton, 
Dickinson, White, Williams, Crabb, and others. His law- 
library was a large and costly one, consisting of standard 
English and American works, and with which as a lawyer 
he was well acquainted. He was also a student of history, 
and had a choice and select library of English and Amer- 
ican works. 

He was well acquainted with human nature and with 
the people among whom he lived. In his manners and 
conversation he was pleasant and affable, and mingled with 
all classes of society, and had the good-will and respect of 
the entire community. 

His ability, skill, and integrity as a lawyer procured him 
a large practice and secured lo him a large estate, which he 
bequeathed to his wife and children. 

As a citizen, in his politics, he was a Republican, of 
the school of Madison. In 1822 he preferred Crawford to 
Jackson, although the latter was a personal friend. From 
Jefferson and IMadison he received several civil commis- 

He was a close and intimate friend of John Dickinson, 
an eminent lawyer, and also with George W. Campbell, 
Felix Grundy, William Brown, lawyers and well-known 
public men of Tennessee. 

Among the law-students in his ofiice were Gen. Sam 
Houston, Aaron V. Brown, Judge William 111. Kennedy, 
of Maury County, Samuel P. Blontgomery, who was killed 
at the battle of the Horseshoe under Gen. Jackson, George 
S. Yerger, attorney-general of the State. 

He was a member of the First Presbyterian Church, and 
for many years an elder therein. He was liberal in his re- 
ligious ideas, and was held a man of integrity and honor, 
and of high moral character. 

In his law-cases he was laborious and always well pre- 
pared to conduct them. His style was that of animated 
conversation. He reasoned well and was persuasive. His 
tone of voice and expression of eye told his zeal and interest 
in his cases. He died, from over-labor in his profession, 
in July, 1824. His funeral was largely attended by citi- 
zens of Nashville. 




Jolin Dickinson was Massucliusetts born and educated, 
came to Nashville a young man, earned a living as deputy 
clerk in the office of the United States District Court, and 
prosecuted the study of the law. His mind and moral 
greatness, and liabits of industry and economy, soon quali- 
fied him for his profession, and he rose to distinction, and 
stood among the most eminent of the able men of the pro- 
fession and times. His success was brain-work and train- 
ing, close, faithful attention to his business, and honorable 
conduct; he was a cool, clear-headed, upright, honorable 
man, respected and esteemed throughout the State for his 
intellect and moral qualities. Always selfpossessed and 
under self-control, he earned and deserved his high place. 
He never sought popularity. His self-respect was high, 
and he deserved and had the respect of his fellow-men. 
He was one of the able land-lawyers of his day, an able 
commercial lawyer, and collected the claims of Eastern 
merchants. He acquired a large and remunerative prac- 
tice. His capacity and fidelity and honorable conduct se- 
cured him a large estate, — probably the best estate up to 
that day which any lawyer had earned and laid up. He 
died in 1813-14, of consumption, in early manhood, leav- 
ing a rich widow, young and handsome, and a son. Eph- 
raim H. Foster, a law-student in his office, afterwards 
United States senator, married his widow. John Dick- 
inson and James Trimble were close and intimate friends; 
the latter survived the former for many years. From him 
these reminiscences and traits of character of Mr. Dickin- 
son were obtained by the writer, from and through James 
P. Clark and Thomas Warington. 


Oliver B. Hays was a native of Massachusetts, and re- 
ceived in that State a liberal education. He studied law 
and was probably admitted to the b:ir in the city of Balti- 
more. Governor Foote is authority for saying that he 
came to Nashville in 1808, which is probably correct, as 
he was a partner with Thomas H. Benton before the re- 
moval of the latter to Missouri. Mr. Hays had a taste for 
classical studies, which he pursued more or less all his life. 
He was a good speaker, had an extensive and accurate ac- 
quaintance with the law, was an acute, diligent, and ener- 
getic practitioner. " He appeared often in the argument 
of land-causes, and the briefs filed by him will be found 
always to have been skillfully framed and full to exuber- 
ance of the citations of adjudicated cases." 

At middle age he retired from the bar, became a Pres- 
byterian minister of what was known as the New School, 
led a rather reeluse life, and died an old man in 1858. f 


"Towards the close of the last century a very worthy 
Dutch family was residing in the town of Lebanon, Tenn., 
now so celebrated for its institutions of learning, and espe- 
cially for its law-school. The Yerger mansion is still stand- 
ing, and in a comfortable state of preservation. In this 

'■■■" By John Trimble. 

"j" Hays I'v. Hays, 3 Tenn., chap. Ixxxviii. 

house were born eight worthy gentlemen, all brothers, and 
all but one of them practitioners of law." 

The eldest brother was the subject of this notice ; he 
was at one time a prominent member of the Nashville bar, 
and officiated for some years as reporter of the judicial 
decisions of the Supreme Court of Tennessee, at first alone 
and afterwards with his younger brother. Hon. E. H. 
Ewing, speaking of him in a recent letter, says, " George 
S. Yerger was rather an uncommon man. I do not know 
when he came to the bar ; I should say, however, not bo- 
fore 1820. He was first a merchant's clerk, with very little 
education, but felt this to be too narrow a field for his abil- 
ities. He read law at odd times, and when he began prac- 
tice soon got into business. He was what might be called 
eminently an indefatigable man. He became State reporter 
in 1831, and we have ten volumes of his reports. The 
editing and compiling of these did not interfere with a full 
and extensive practice at the bar. He was fluent, had a 
remarkable memory for cases and dates, never gave up a 
point, however desperate, and occupied a first rank at the 
bar, where he had as associates and rivals Washington, 
Fogg, Bell, and others. He removed to Mississippi early 
in 1839, and there maintained his character as a sound and 
able lawyer." 

Governor Foote speaks of him as an intimate acquaint- 
ance, and, in some important cases, an associate in practice 
in Mississippi. He says, " He brought with him to this 
new home a high reputation for legal learning, and this 
reputation he succeeded in maintaining unimpaired to the 
last moment of his life. . . . His impulsive nature was 
easily roused, but never ran into excesses of any kind. He 
always .spoke with animation, and sometimes with no little 
fervor and emphasis. His manner was uniformly easy and 
natural, his diction chaste and unpretending, and his ges- 
ticulations decorous and impressive. . . . He preferred 
taking part in the trial of commercial causes, or in the dis- 
cussion of such as were of equitable jurisdiction ; but he 
was well fitted both by temperament and intellectual train- 
ing for the vindication of the innocent or the prosecution 
of the guilty before courts of criminal cognizance."^ He 
died in Mississippi about 1859. 


J. S. Yerger, a younger brother of the above, possessed 
many of the qualities of mind which give fame at the bar. 
His stock of general knowledge was larger than his brother's. 
His powers of perception were unusually quick, and his 
judgment strong. He had read deeply and generally, and 
was a good judge both of men and their motives of action. 
He was of an eminently sociable disposition, and possessed 
conversational powers of a most entertaining and instructive 
order. He had made his mark as a lawyer at this bar be- 
fore removing to Mississippi, where he became an eminent 
circuit judge. A still younger brother, William Yerger, 
was afterwards judge of the Supreme Court of Mississippi. 
He was a very gifted man, and it is- said that an elFort of his 
made in court when he was only twenty-two years of age — 
his first plea at the Mississippi bar — "suggested almost 

J Bench and Bai- of the South and Southwest, pp. 7 

S, 70. 



inevitably the examples of intellectual precocity of the 
younger Pitt and Alexander Hamilton." 

In our list we find the name of Samuel Yevger, admitted 
in Nashville in 1824. He was probably one of the brothers, 
as seven out of the eight are known to have been lawyers. 
But of Samuel we have no further account. 


Gen. George W. Gibbs was admitted to the Davidson 
bar in 1817, and was for many years the law-partner of 
Judge James Rucks. Both maintained high characters as 
gentlemen, and did a large amount of professional business. 
Gen. Gibbs settled on a farm near or including the site of 
Union City, Tenn. The present Secretary of State, Flon. 
Charles N. Gibbs, is one of his sons. 


A life of Judge Catron, or rather a somewhat humorous 
letter embracing the principal points of his life, written by 
himself from Washington, D. C, in December, 1851, while 
he was a justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, 
appears in " Sketches of Eminent Americans," having been 
furnished at the solicitation of John Livingston, Esq., the 
editor of that work. We have also been furni.shed with a 
copy of the same in pamphlet form by the friends of Judge 
Catron. It is a rich and original document, full of the 
quaint humor of the judge, which rendered his speeches 
and writings so pleasing, and often amusing. We regret 
that we have not space to quote it in full ; but such ex- 
tracts as we shall make will serve the double purpose of 
giving the reader an outline of his legal career, and at the 
same time a sample of his racy, original, and interesting 
style. He begins : 

" I do not believe there is a man living who could give 
you any tolerable account of my early life except myself; 
and when the incidents were narrated they would pnly 
prove what Campbell sa3-s of Lord Mansfield, — that when 
became up from Scotland to Westminster school on a High- 
land pony, the chances were a billion to one against his ever 
being chief justice; and I can safely say that quite as many 
chances stood in the way of my being a supreme judge 
when of the same age as was His Lordship at the time he 
wended his solitary way south, with his pony as his only 
companion. Y'our readers would only learn that I had 
been reared on a farm, and been flogged through the com- 
mon schools of Western Virginia and Kentucky, and then 
had had the advantages of such academies as the Western 
country afforded, — humble enough, in all conscience, and 
where little else than Latin and the lower mathematics 
was added to the common-school training ; that, with this 
amount of acquired knowledge, I read history, novels, and 
poetry ; grounded myself well, as 1 thought, in Virginia poli- 
tics ; that I read everything which came to hand as it came, — 
Fielding, Smollett, Sterne, Goldsmith, and up through Tom 
Paine, Hume, and Gibbon. Everything, or nearly so, then 
to be had in the country, of history, ancient and modern, 
was read, and much of it with a devouring appetite. Pres- 
ter John, Peter the Hermit, Richard and Saladin, Falstaff 
and Frederick, were all jumbled up together. It is due, 
however, to say that preparatory to taking up Blaekstone 

I carefully re-read Hume's ' History of England,' with 
Smollett's and Bisset's continuations; Robertson's 'Charles 
the Fifth,' and also Gibbon's ' Decline and Fall,' and made 
extensive notes on each, which I thought exceeding valua- 
ble at the time. They were on large foolscap, bound 
in pasteboard, and, all told, were, when packed on each 
other, two-thirds as high as a table ; nor did I doubt that 
my condensed Gibbon would go forth some day in print; 
nor do I now remember at what time it was used to kindle 
the ofiice fire, but this was its fate. With my old friends, 
Pope, Shakspeare, and Sterne, I iiad to act as I have 
often done since with my snuffbox, — hide them from my- 
self . . . 

"The Bible being the common reader of my early schools, 
of course I knew almost by memory. Of geography I 
learned more than most men and know more now. AVith 
this confused mass of self-taught knowledge I commenced 
to read law in April, 1812, in the State of Tennessee. Up 
to this date I had never been sick a day or hour and had a 
frame rarely equaled,; one that could bear ardent and rigor- 
ous application for sixteen hours in the day, and which was 
well tried about four years at something like this rate. 
Late in 1815 I tried my chances at the bar and succeeded, 
certainly in the main chance of getting fees ; but then I ' 
had a good deal of worldly experience and availed myself 
of the eases in court, throughout a heavy circuit, of a re- '.} 
tiring brother-lawyer and friend who was elected to Con- ,^ 
gross. . . . The courts were full of indictments for crimes 
from murder down. Here I had to fight the battle single 
and alone and to work day and night. No man ever 
worked much harder, I think ; my circuit judge was an 
excellent criminal lawyer, and being partly Scotch always 
stood firmly by the State and leaned strongJij against the 
culprit; so that I got on very well, but often with an arro- 
gance that would have done credit to Castlereagh, for 
blundering in my law certainly, if not in my grammar. 
Like His Lordship, I was given to white waistcoats and 
small-clothes, and drew pretty largely on the adventitious 
aids furnished by the tailor. 

" The lawyers then traveled the circuit from county to 
county usually of a Sunday. Each man that was well 
appointed carried pistols and holsters and a negro waiter 
with a large portmanteau behind him. All went on horse- 
back. The pistols were carried not to shoot thieves and 
robbers, but to fight each other, if by any chance a quarrel 
was hatched up furnishing an occasion for a duel, then a 
very favorite amusement and liberally indulged in, and the 
attorney-general for the circuit was expected to be, and 
always was, prepared for such a contingency. He managed 
to keep from fighting, however. His equipments were of 
the best, with a led third horse now and then for the sake 
of parade." . . . 

We cannot quote further from Judge Catron, although 
his account of himself is very interesting to the end. He 
settled in Nashville at the close of the year 1818. In 
182-1 he was elected by the Legislature a judge of the 
Supreme Court, and continued on the bench till the change 
of the judicial system by the Constitution of 1834. On 
the 4th of March, 1837, he was nominated to the Senate 
by President Jackson as a judge of the Supreme Court of 



the United States and confirmed for that office, wliich he 
held till his death. 

Patrick H. Darby was a native of Ireland. He came to 
Tennessee from Kentucky about 1814., He was a lawyer 
of considerable ability, a fluent speaker, but did not sustain 
himself as to character. He returned to Kentucky, where 
he died about 1830. 


Henry Crabb came to the bar about 1814. He was a 
dignified, somewhat haughty and polished gentleman of 
more than common talents, and a man of learning for his 
time. He was probably about forty years of age when he 
died. He occupied a position in the front rank at the bar, 
and was elevated to the bench of the Supreme Court in 
1827. He was then in a state of rapid physical decline, 
and died a few years after. The opinions delivered by him 
during the brief period he occupied his seat upon the bench 
are found in Blartin and Yerger's Eeports, the most noted 
of whijh was upon the question. How far an attorney in 
the State of Tennessee was entitled to claim pecuniary re- 
muneration for professional services rendered by him, upon 
the basis of a quanUim meruit, and the interesting case of 
Vaughn vs. Phebe. 

Judge Crabb left one son, Henry A. Crabb, who be- 
came quite prominent aS a lawyer and politician in Califor- 
nia, where he was a candidate for the United States Senate, 
and was one of the Fillmore and Donelson electors of that 
State in 185G. 

Thomas H. Fletcher, one of the early and well-known 
attorneys of Nashville, was a resident of the city upwards 
of thirty-five years, and held a higli rank in the profession. 
He was born in the town of Warren, Albemarle Co., Va., 
on the 15th of September, 1792. He came to Nashville 
in 1808, at the age of sixteen, having walked all the way 
from Virginia. His first engagement in business was with 
Col. Andrew Hynes, as clerk in his store, with whom he 
subsequently became a partner. He afterwards largely en- 
gaged in mercantile pursuits, but was uniortunate, like hun- 
dreds of his fellow-citizens, in the financial disaster of 1818 
-19. This led him to the study of law. He commenced prac- 
tice in Fayetteville, Tenn., in 1821, having been appointed 
by his life-long friend, Governor Carroll, district attorney or 
attorney-genei'ul. His acquaintance with the politics of the 
country was very general, and few men could trace their 
progress from the early days of the Constitution to his own 
lime with more accuracy. 

He had a great taste for political pursuits, and his ready 
talents would have adorned any station to which he might 
have aspired, but his pecuniary disasters prevented him en- 
gaging in that field, and hung over him like a cloud the 
whole of his life. In 1825 he represented the county of 
Franklin for two terms in the State Legislature, and was 
chiefly instrumental in the romovai of the seat of govern- 
ment from Blurlreesboro' to Nashville, and at a later period 
served as Secretary of State under a pro (em. appointment 
from his intimate and valued friend, Governor Carroll. 

With these exceptions, he contented himself with the ex- 
pression of his political sentiments in private circles. 

Mr. Fletcher served his country in the Indian campaigns 
of 1813 ; was in the battles of Talladega and the Horseshoe 
as a member of Capt. Deaderick's company, which was Gen. 
Jackson's life-guard ; and in December, 1812, was appointed 
by Gen. Jackson his second aide-de-camp, but declined the 
position. During the Creek campaign at Camp Coffee, Gen. 
Jackson tendered him the appointment of military secre- 
tary, which he also declined. 

He married, Jan. 10, 1814, Sarah G., a daughter of 
Thomas Talbot, an old resident of Davidson County. He 
died suddenly of apoplexy, Jan. 12, 1845, in the fifty- 
third year of his age. He was the father of twelve chil- 
dren, four of whom are yet living. 

Mr. Fletcher became widely known in 1823-24 as the 
author of "The Political Horse race," in which he humor- 
ous! v and graphically portrayed the characteristics and con- 
jectured popularity of the Presidential candidates of that 
period, Messrs. Clay, Crawford, Adams, Jackson, and Cal- 
houn. It was one of the most popular effusions of the kind 
ever written, and has been several times republished. It 
appeared lately in the Nashville Banner, with some very 
excellent and appreciative introductory remarks respecting 
' the article and its author by Hon. John M. Lea, which 
we cfuote, as containing the best summary of Mr. Fletcher's 
character and standing as a lawyer which we have seen. 
Judge Lea says, — ■ 

" The piece was copied with notices of commendation in 
the newspapers, and inquiry showed the author was an 
eminent lawyer of Nashville, the late Thomas H. Fletcher, 
a most eminent advocate, who stood in the front rank of his 
profession, the peer of Whiteside, Brown, Grundy, and 
Crabb. Mr. Fletcher, though he had a large and general 
practice, stood pre-eminently high as a criminal lawyer, and 
possessed all the requisites for success in that special foren- 
sic field. A good judge of human nature, knowing its 
strong and its weak side, he selected his jury with great 
discriminatio'n, and having a heart as tender as a woman's, 
his feelings were naturally with his clients in their distress, 
and he always made their cause his own. There have 
been great criminal lawyers in Tennessee, but few his equals 
and none his superior. His voice was clear and strong ; 
manner earnest and excited, but never rude and boisterous ; 
pathetic or humorous as the occasion suggested, he always 
spoke with good taste and made, perhaps, fewer fiiilures than 
almost any lawyer at the bar. He was very popular with 
the profession, especially among the younger lawyers, whom 
he always treated with the utmost kindness and courtesy. 
His reading was extensive and not confined to professional 
works, and often he beguiled his leisure hours in composi- 
tion for the newspapers on ephemeral subjects of the day. 
Those who have had the good fortune to listen to his inter- 
esting conversation will never forget the pleasant impression 
which he always made. There was in his manner no rude- 
ness, in his speech no coarseness or invective, and his sym- 
pathy for the misfortunes of his fellow-men was unbounded. 
His death was the subject of universal grief in Nashville. 
He had been engaged for a week on the trial of a murder 
case,— of course, for the defense,— and became very much 



exhausted. On Saturday a verdict of acquittal was brought 
in, and Mr. Fletcher walked to his office, saying that he 
did not feel at all well. The next afternoon, about three 
o'clock, the unhappy news was circulated that this worthy 
man and distinguished advocate had instantly died from a 
stroke of apoplexy. The writer of this brief notice imme- 
diately hastened to his office and assisted in raising from 
the floor his manly form, his hand still grasping the book 
from which he had been reading when death summoned his 
presence to the higher court above." 

Perhaps the character of Mr. Fletcher's legal mind may 
be best illustrated by one of his own anecdotes, which he 
■was in the habit of telling with great glee. Owing to his 
reputation as a jury advocate, he was retained as counsel in 
a large ejectment suit pending in an adjoining county. 
Now, Mr. Fletcher would say, if there was any branch of 
the law about which he know less than any other (and, he 
would add, he knew very little about any), it was land-law. 
He tried to read up for the occasion, but the more he read 
the less he know about it. AVhen he went to try the case 
he was in great tribulation. Luckily, however, it was de- 
veloped in the testimony of one of the first witnesses that 
the parties had gone upon the land for the purpose of try- 
ing to adjust the matters of difficulty amicably, the result 
of which was a free fight, participated in by the litigants 
and their friends in attendance. At once, Fletcher would 
say, " my foot was on my native heath and my name was 
Macgregor." He was at home in an assault-and-battery case. 
He set to work to bring out all the details of the fight, 
turned the whole case into the charge of an assault by the 
opposite party on his client, and won his case with flying 

Thomas "Washington (not mentioned in the above list) 
came to the bar in 1813. Although making an unpromis- 
ing beginning, he attained a good degree of eminence in 
his profession. By perseverance and application he brought 
out what was latent within him, and became a very able and 
effective lawj'er. His law-papers were drawn with great 
care and ability, and were perfect models of their kind. 
He was a slow, deliberate speaker, but always correct in his 
lano-uase. In manner he was courteous and dignified, firm 
and outspoken in his opinions, and " a gentleman to the 
core." He was fine and polished as a literary writer. The 
obituary notices of Chancellor Kent and Hon. W. G. Camp- 
bell (printed in the beginning of 8 Humphreys) and of 
Judge Turley (at the end of 11 Humphreys) were written 
by him. Perhaps the ablest of his arguments was made in 
the great case of the Ohio Life Insurance and Transporta- 
tion Company vs. Merchants' Insurance and Transportation 
Company (11 Humph. 1). He died quite advanced in 
years during the civil war. 


Hon. James Rucks was at one time a prominent attorney 
at Nashville, and afterwards circuit judge. He was born 
in North Carolina, and came to Tennessee with his parents 
when in his seventeenth year. He soon went back and 

■'^' Anecdote related by Judge Cooper. 

finished his classical education at the university of his 
native State. Returning to Tennessee, he read law dili- 
gently and successfully for two years, and commenced the 
practice of his profession in Carthage, where he soon ob- 
tained a profitable business, in competition with some of the 
ablest attorneys that Tennessee could then boast. He is 
said to have been singularly industrious in the preparation 
of his cases, and remarkably clear and forcible in his man- 
ner of discussing them in court. He subsequently located 
in the town of Lebanon, where he remained until 1828, 
when he removed to the city of Nashville, and was associ- ! 
ated in business with Felix Grundy and Gen. Gibbs. He 
afterwards became one of the circuit judges. Ho removed 
to Jackson, Miss., in 1829, where he became quite wealthy, 

and died in February, 1862. j 



Hon. Thomas Claiborne was admitted to the Nashville 
bar in 1807. He was distinguished more in politics than 
in law, being an intense Jeffersonian Democrat. He was 
an able and fluent speaker, and a man of honorable and up- 
right character. He left many descendants. He was mem- 
ber of Congress from 1817 to 1819. He was the first 
Grand Master of the Blasonic Grand Lodge of Tennessee. 


David Craighead came to the bar about 1814, and would 
have gcquired more distinction as a lawyer had he not when 
young married into wealth, and thus become relieved from 
the spur of necessity. He was a man of native wit, a 
good speaker, and possessed fine conversational powers. 
Occasionally he appeared with great effect at the bar in 
important cases. His son, Thomas B. Craighead, now re- 
sides in Nashville. 


Gen. Sam Houston deserves to be mentioned in connec- 
tion with the bar of Davidson County, pot because he was 
great or very much noted as a lawyer, but because of his 
eminent distinction in other respects. His career was truly 
one of the most remarkable of modern times, and we have 
reserved a sketch of him to be placed by the side of Gen. 
Jackson's, whom he somewhat resembled in certain phases 
of his character. Probably his reverence and respect for 
Jackson, under whom he had fought and achieved his first 
distinction in the Southern Indian war, brought him to the 
home of that great hero to embark in his civil and political 
career. He read law for a short time with James Trimble, 
at Nashville, and was admitted to the bar in 1819. His 
personal qualities rather than his learning or legal attain- 
ments — of the latter of which he must have possessed very 
little at that time — gave him prestige and place, and in a 
very short time he was district attorney and member of 
Congress. He was elected to the former office by the Leg- 
islature in October, 1818, and to the latter in 1823, and 
again in 1825, serving two consecutive terms, which closed 
in 1827. In August,,1827, he was elected Governor of 
Tennessee by a majority of about twelve thousand over his 
worthy competitor, Hon. Newton Cannon. Such was his per- 
sonal popularity that upon his accession to the gubernato- 



rial office he had not a single opponent in the Legislature. 
He was the nominee again for Governor in 1829, and un- 
doubtedly would have been elected had he not, in conse- 
quence of his unhappy domestic difficulty, renounced the and the prospect not alone of immediate success, 
but of a future brilliant and perhaps unrivaled career in 
Tennessee, and hid himself for several years in the heart of 
the Cherokee Nation, west of the Mississippi. He emerged, 
however, from the wilderness and from a life among sav- 
ages to be the herald of the " Lone Star" of the Texan 
republic, and the leader and founder of civilization upon 

I the great southwestern frontier of the United States, carving 
out for himself a sphere of splendor which far outshone his 
earlier achievements in Tennessee. When he had, by his 

I military genius, achieved the independence of Texas, he 
was chosen its civil president, then its representative in the 
hall of Congress from 1838 to 1840, then again president 

, from 1841 to 1844, then, after its annexation, its senator 
in Congress from 1846 to 1859, and lastly Governor of 
Texas from 1859 to 1861. 

! Of his talents and rank as a lawyer little is to be said. 

1 What he might have been in this department would no 

i doubt contrast very strikingly with what he actually was, 

I had he not been early tempted to abandon his professional 
studies for the allurements of political life. But he was 
doubtless better adapted to the sphere of action into which 
he seemed to drift, almost without intention on his part, 
than to the forensic arena or the judicial seat. 

A more complete sketch of his life will be found else- 
where in this work. 


1 William E. Anderson was a native of Rockbridge Co., 

I Va. Mr. Ewing says he came to Nashville about 1825. 

I He is described by Governor Foote as " truly a Samson 
Agonistes, alike in his physical frame and in his gigantic 
mental proportions. He was considerably more than six 
feet in height. His shoulders were broad and massive. 
His limbs were huge and muscular, but of most harmonious 
proportions. His figure was perfectly erect, even when he 
was far past the meridian of life. His expansive chest 
gave shelter to one of the most generous and sympathizing 
hearts that ever yet palpitated in a human bosom. His 
physiognomy was most striking and expressive, and when 
kindled into excitement, as in his later days he rarely was, 
there flashed forth from his commanding visage the mingled 
light of reason and sentiment, the effulgent beamings of which 
no man ever beheld and afterwards forgot." He has been 
compared to a volcano ordinarily in a state of slumberous re- 
pose, but capable of being stirred into sublime and terrible 
commotion by some adequate cause. Although such was 
his great power, he has left behind him the reputation of 
having never been a very diligent student of the learning 
appertaining to his profession. He was self-indulgent and 
fond of conviviality. One who knew him well, writing of 
this peculiarity of his character, and how it sometimes be- 
trayed him into excesses, says, " But with all this he was 
a man of powerful intellect, and such were his acuteness, 
ingenuity, and analytic power that the truth seemed to be 

. whatever he desired to make it. His mind was not of the 

more subtle and hair-splitting order (rail-splitting, rather), 
but, like the trunk of the elephant, tore up trees while it 
could pick up pins. He stood high at the bar, and his 
services were eagerly sought, but he was too negligent in 
the preparation of his cases to be a truly successful lawyer. 
His resources and power, however, in the day of conflict 
frequently overcame his negligence in preparation. I was 
once smashed by him before a jury in this way where I 
had felt secure of a verdict. 

" Anderson and Yerger in their encounters at the bar 
reminded me sometimes of a powerful bull and a stubborn 
bull-dog : sometimes the dog would be gored and tossed 
upon the horns, and sometimes the bull, bellowing with 
pain, would have his nose dragged to the ground and held 
there as in a vice. Anderson, for native intellectual power, 
had few superiors anywhere, so far as I have known men ; 
and I have known Webster, Clay, and Calhoun." He was 
at one time a judge of the Circuit Court, and removed to 
Mississippi about 1845. 


Andrew C. Hayes is yet well remembered by his sur- 
viving friends and old associates in Tennessee. He was a 
native of Rockbridge Co., Ya., and was educated at what 
was formerly known as Washington College. During his 
practice in Nashville he held the office of district attorney 
for several years. He removed to Mississippi in 1837, and 
was there associated in practice with Yolney E. Howard. 
He died quite suddenly a few years after his settlement in 


George W. Campbell was an early member of the David- 
son bar, and a contemporary of Felix Grundy and Gen. 
Jackson during his early career. He enjoyed a large and 
lucrative practice, acquired national distinction, and accu- 
mulated a handsome fortune. He was a member of Congress 
prior to 1809, when he was appointed a judge of the Su- 
preme Court; he continued on the bench till 1811, and was 
then chosen United States senator, which office he filled 
till Mr. Monroe made him Secretary of the Treasury, 1813 
-14. He resigned his place in the Cabinet, and wa.s ap- 
pointed minister to Russia. 

Some interesting reminiscences might be related of Judge 
Campbell's family did space permit. His only daughter, a 
most accomplished lady and heiress, became the wife of 
Gen. Ewell at the close of the late war. In 1873 they 
both died at the same time with malignant fever. " The 
dying hero, on hearing of her decease, demanded a last 
sight of those beloved features which he had so long felt to 
be identified with his own being. Her yet life-like but 
inanimate form, dressed for the tomb, was borne to his bed- 
side ; he gazed upon the face of his beloved for one single 
moment of heart-convulsing but tearless agony, and fell 
back upon his pillow as dead as the corpse upon which he 
had been tenderly gazing." 




BENCH AND BAK— Continued. 

Members of Davidson Bench and Bar — Biographical Sketches. 


This gentleman, talents and distinction shed a 
lustre upon the place of his birth, was a native of David- 
son County, born about 1795. He was educated at the 
University of Nashville, and began his career as a lawyer 
in Williamson County. He was sent to the Legislature 
from Williamson County before he was twenty-one years of 
age. He came to practice at Nashville, and entered into 
partnership witli Judge Crabb prior to the elevation of the 
latter to the Supreme Bench in 1827. Before he entered 
politics as a lifc-busiuess he had acquired a high standing at 
the bar as a lawyer of great acuteness, research, and ability, 
and as a speaker of no ordinary merits. He was about 
thirty-five when he entered the lower house of Congress, and 
from that till 1860 he was in public life most of his time. 
With the exception of appearing occasionally with his usual 
force and ability, he did little in the practice of his profes- 
.sion after he entered into public life. 

He was a Representative in Congress from 1827 to 

s 1841, and was elected Speaker of the House on entering 

I upon his first term. He was Secretary of War under Gen. 

v% {rayToFs)administration, United States senator for two full 

terms, — from 1847 to 1859, — and Whig, or Conservative, 

candidate for the Presidency in 1860. 

We cannot resist the temptation to introduce a passage 
or two here from Governor Foote respecting Mr. Bell's in- 
troduction into politics and a few other incidents of his life. 
We quote from Mr. Foote's work on the " Bench and Bar 
of the South and Southwest," page 177 : 

" In his first contest for a seat in Congress he had to en- 
counter as an opposing aspirant the celebrated Felix Grundy. 
A more excited canvass than that just alluded to has never 
occurred in any State of the Union. There are some re- 
markable features about it which imparted to it at the time 
it was in progress peculiar interest. Mr. Bell was a young 
man of yet une.-tablished reputation. Mr. Grundy was a 
man past the middle stage of life and of world-wide fame. 
They were both avowed friends and supporters of Gen. 
Jackson in the coming Presidential election, but Jackson 
openly declared his preference for 5Ir. Grundy over his 
more youthful and inexperienced opponent. Often did the 
two candidates meet in discussion, and sometimes words 
were uttered by each of them not altogether comporting 
with kindness and courtesy. Several of the speeches made 
by Blr. Bell during this heated conflict are yet referred to 
often by old residents of Tennessee as master pieces in what 
may be called political digladiation. The success of BIr. 
Bell over such a competitor as Mr. Grundy at once gave 
him a high national attitude. 

" When he reached Congress he soon found himself in 
the midst of a new contest. Mr. Polk and himself were 
pitted against each other by their respective friends as can- 
didates for the Speakership of the House, and a bitter 
political antagonism sprang up between them, which did 
not sensibly abate for a long scries of years. Mr. Polk at- 

tained the Presidential station through the election of 
1844 ; Mr. Bell was ui>succcssfully run for the same high 
place in 1860. Mr. Polk served in the ofiice of Governor of 
Tennessee for a single term ; Mr. Bell officiated as senator 
of the United States for two full terms. They are both 
now dead, and the questions upon which they were arrayed 
against each other are at rest, perhaps forever. . . . They 
were both men of eminently conservative turn of mind and 
devoted friends of the National Union. . . . BIr. Polk, as 
a popular speaker, has perhaps never had his equal in Ten- 
nessee ; Mr. Bell occasionally delivered a profound and 
statesmanlike discourse which would have done credit to 
any public man that our country has produced." 

Governor Foote refers to his great speech, delivered at 
Vauxhall Garden, in Nashville, in 1836, and relates a very 
interesting incident connected with it. " Having," he says, 
" the honor of being on exceedingly intimate terras with 
Mr. Bell in the latter years of his life, I recollect having 
said to him, in the presence of his most intelligent and 
estimable lady, that I thought this Vauxhall speech by far 
the best I had ever seen of his composition, and that I had 
heard much as to its effect upon those who listened to it. 
He very modestly declared that he had taken more pains 
in preparing it than he had exercised in any other instance. 
Mrs. Bell said, with that noble and hearty frankness and 
freedom from false delicacy which so distitiguished her, that 
there was an anecdote connected with that same speech 
which she would relate to me, which she did, very much in 
those words : ' I had never seen Sir. Bell until the day on 
which he addressed the large assemblage at Vauxhall, 
though I had heard much of him and sympathized with 
him deeply as a public man. I listened to the whole of it 
with the warmest admiration. When, he had closed, I 
whispered to a friend that, though I had never before 
thought of marrying a second time, I did not know how I 
should be able to refuse a nuptial off'er from such an orator 
and patriot as I had been just listening to with such un- 
feigned delight. Whether Mr. Bell heard of my commen- 
dations or not, it is not for me to say ; but not many days 
elapsed before he called to pay his personal respects, and in 
little less time we became, as you see us, man and wife.' " 

Judge Cooper says in a recent note, " Mr. Bell was a 
practicing lawyer at the bar, after I came to Nashville, for 
two or three years. On every occasion in which he under- 
took to argue a cause he showed a thorough mastery of it, 
and in one case, certainly, and perhaps two cases, where the 
cause was worthy of his steel, his forensic eflForts were mas- 
terly. He was possessed in an eminent degree of the power 
of sarcasm. The late Judge William B. Turley, who was 
at college with Mr. Bell, once said to me that the young 
men rated their college-mates much as they stood in after- 
life, and that they all looked upon John Bell as the most, 
talented man at college, — Cumberland College, now the 
University of Nashville." 

Hon. E. H. Ewing, in furnishing some reminiscences of 
Mr. Bell, remarks, " He was a man of a powerful and com- 
prehensive mind, in many respects well fitted to occupy the 
highest positions as a statesman. Though not a man of 
learning in the usual sense, lie was a man of very extensive 
readincT and information. His knowledtro was of the most 





practical and effective character. In speaking he was 
equally at home before a jury, a crowd at the hustings, a 
Supreme Court, or the United States Senate. He enlisted 
attention everywhere by his complete mastery of his subject 
in all its bearings, and his and impressivcnoss 
in the enforcement of his argument. He had little wit, 
some humor, no coruscating brilliancy like Prentiss, but a 
large vocabulary, brought well into use in the clothing 
mighty thoughts and well-considered opinions." 


Ephraim H. Foster was born near Bardstown, Nelson 
Co., Ky., on the 17th of September, 1794. His father, 
Eobert C. Foster, located with his family in Davidson 
County, near Nashville, in 1797. He became a prominent 
citizen, filling at different times almost every civil office 
within the gift of the people, was repeatedly elected to both 
branches of the State Legislature, and was twice made pre- 
siding officer of the Senate. He died at Col. Foster's resi- 
dence in 1845, at the advanced age of seventy-six, re- 
spected and honored by a people among whom he had so 
long lived. Col. Foster received the best advantages in the 
way of an education that the schools of a now and sparsely 
settled country afforded, and graduated in 1813 with the 
first class that was matriculated in Cumberland College, 
afterwards known as the University of Nashville. 
. He immediately commenced the study of law with John 
Dickinson, a lawyer of fine acquirements, who had emi- 
grated from Massachusetts, and at that time stood high at 
the Nashville bar. 

While pursuing his studies the news reached Nashville 
of the Indian massacre at Fort Mimms, and upon a call 
being made for men he enrolled as a volunteer, and marched 
under Gen. Jackson to the scene of action. He was taken 
into Gen. Jackson's military family as private secretary, and 
manfully endured all the hardships of this perilous cam- 
paign, bearing himself gallantly in the battles of Talladega, 
Enotocligpee, Emucfaw, and Topeka. 

Upon the Indians being subdued and the campaign 
closing, Mr. Foster was lionorably discharged, returned 
home, and in a short time commenced the practice of his 

He soon took rank with the first members of the bar, and 
by close application to business, combined with a high and 
manly bearing, and being kind, courteous, and pleasant in 
his intercourse with all, was soon the recipient of a large and 
lucrative practice. In 1817 he married the widow of Mr. 
Dickinson, the gentleman with whom ho had prepared him- 
self for his profession, and about this time, his engagements 
becoming too arduous and heavy for one person, he formed 
a partnership with William L. Brown, a man of quiet and 
retiring disposition, but without a superior in his profession, 
and who was subsequently placed upon tlie bench of the 
Supreme Court. 

When Mr. Brown assumed his place upon the bench, 
Mr. Foster formed a partnership with Francis B. Fogg, who 
had emigrated from Connecticut to Tennessee in 1817. 
Mr. Fogg was a retiring, studious man, possessed of an in- 
exhaustible store of legal learning, combined with & most 
remarkable knowledge upon all subjects and the most re- 

tentive of memories, but so reserved that his practice was 
limited. The association with Mr. Foster brought him 
more fully before the public, and his immense powers soon 
became known and appreciated. In a little while he took 
rank with the first lawyers of the State, and his services 
were eagerly sought, especially in the higher courts. This 
good man and great jurist lived to the advanced age of 
eighty-five, and was regarded by all as one of the founders 
of Tennessee jurisprudence. This partnership continued 
until Col. Foster's political engagements forced him to re- 
tire from the practice. To the last hour of his life he 
always regarded his old friend and partner with the affec- 
tion of a brother. 

Col. Foster was a fine speaker, had a noble carriage and 
commanding presence. His mind was elastic, and his per- 
ception quick ; his wit and repartee sparkling. He was 
social and vei-y agreeable in his manners ; very fond of a joke, 
which he would indulge in and play upon his best friends, 
either male or female. He was always companionable and 
pleasant with the ladies, who permitted him to perpetrate a 
joke that would not bo tolerated from another. All in all 
he was as brave and gallant a man as ever trod the earth ; 
was a stranger to fear ; might be inclined to yield his life, — 
his honor, never. He was no stickler, either at the bar, in 
private life, or in politics, bearing himself under all circum- 
stances as the brave, courteous, and accomplished gentle- 

With all his good qualities, Mr. Foster was not faultless. 
What mortal is or ever was ? He had by nature a quick 
and violent temper, under the influence of which he some- 
times did things that in his cooler moments no one regretted 
more than himself. In 1821, wliile arguing a case in which 
his feelings were very much enlisted, he became angry at 
some remark that fell from the bench and threw a book at 
the presiding judge, who, throwing aside the dignity of the 
court, sprang towards Mr. Foster, a heavy hickory walking- 
stick in his hand, and but for the intervention of friends a 
serious difficulty would have been the result. Peace, how- 
ever, was restored without bloodshed. Mr. Foster made 
the proper apology, paid a heavy fine lor his rashness, and 
the honorable but belligerent court adjourned. In a few 
minutes Mr. Foster was in his office quietly writing, when 
in came the now venerable Judge J. C. Guild, then a coun- 
try boy of some nineteen years, a total stranger and without 
recommendations, and asked permission to study law under 
him. Mr. Foster readily consented, thus exhibiting in a 
brief period of time two very antagonistic traits of charac- 
ter. Judge Guild remained in his office until he completed 
his studies, subsequently rose to eminence in his profession, 
and, although a zealous antagonist of Col. Foster at the 
height of his political career, always retained for him the 
warmest personal attachment, with the most profound re- 
spect and admiration, and now in his green old age delights 
in relating incidents, both personal and political, that oc- 
curred between them in years long gone by. 

For years Mr. Foster pursued his profession with great 
assiduity ; his practice was large and very lucrative. Ho 
lived in princely style, and his hospitality was proverbial, 
and yet, with all his lavish expenditures upon family and 
friends, he accumulated a fine estate, and his surroundings 



at this time gave every promise of a long and happy 

In 1832 he gave the first evidence of tlie political aspi- 
rations that marked his subsequent career. Previous to 
this time he had served his county in the State Legislature, 
but always reluctantly, and never had any formidable oppo- 
sition when liis name was before the people. AVhen a mem- 
ber, he was invariably elected Speaker of the House, and by 
his courtly manners and an unequalod capacity for the 
despatch of business acquired an enviable reputation as a 
presiding oflBcer. 

Hon. Felix Grundy was at this time United States sen- 
ator from Tennessee, his term of service to expire in March, 
1833. Col. Foster's popularity had grown until it was co- 
extensive with the limits of the State, and his friends de- 
termined to place him in competition with Judge Grundy for 
this exalted position. The contests for seats in the Legis- 
lature were vrarm. In his own county Mr. Foster's friends 
■were elected by large majorities. When the Legislature 
assembled the name of Maj. John H. Eaton was brought 
forward as a candidate whose success would be more than 
gratifying to Gen. Jackson. 

The balloting continued from time to time for weeks, and 
was terminated on the fifty-fifth ballot by the election of 
Mr. Grundy. The secret history of this result was known 
to but few. Mr. Foster became satisfied that Tennessee 
would be without her full representation in the United 
States Senate unless some of the aspirants should withdraw, 
and, fully determined that the President should not dictate 
who should bo the senator from Tennessee, prevailed upon 
enough of his own friends to vote for Mr. Grundy to secure 
his election. 

Mr. Foster, with a zeal and devotion unsurpassed by any 
one, had to this time supported Gen. Jackson in all of his 
political conflicts. In 1835 he united his influence with 
that of the Tennessee delegation in the United States House 
of Representatives — with the exception of James K. Polk 
and Cave Johnson — in prevailing upon Hugh L. White, 
then a senator from Tennessee, to permit his name to be 
placed before the country for the Presidency in opposition 
to Jlr. Van Buren, advocated his election before the people, 
and ended in giving the vote of Tennessee to this pure and 
unspotted statesman and patriot. From this time to his 
death Mr. Foster was a warm, zealous, and devoted Wlii". 
In 1837, Blr. Foster was elected to succeed Judge Grundy 
in the United States Senate, whose term of service would 
expire in March, 1839. Soon after this Judge Grundy 
accepted a seat in Mr. Van Buren's Cabinet, and Mr. 
Foster received the executive appointment to fill his unex- 
pired term, and took his seat in the Senate in December, 
1838, and continued in office until March 3, 1839. The 
elections in Tennessee this year proved a Democratic suc- 
cess, and the Legislature which convened in the fall passed 
resolutions of instructions which neither Judge White nor 
himself could obey, and they both resigned. The resig- 
nation of Mr. Foster was transmitted to the Legislature 
Nov. 15, 1839, and closed with the.?e words : " I surrender 
without painful regret a trust which, under the circum- 
stances, I could not hope to retain without reproach, and 
now deliver to the representatives of the people the com- 

mission I have the honor to hold in their service. It 
reached my hands without stain or corruption, and I return 
it without a blot of dishonor." 

From this time for years the political strife and excite- 
ment in Tennessee were intense and bitter- The home of 
Jackson was battled for by both parties, without any regard 
whatever to the expenditure of brains, muscle, or money. 

In 1840, Mr. Foster was placed upon the Whig electoral 
ticket for the State at large, and commenced in May the 
most exciting campaign that had ever been inaugurated in 
Tennessee, and continued in the field without rest until 
the election, and made .speeches in every county in the 
State. The Whigs were triumphant by a majority of 
twelve thousand, and to this result, without doing injustice I 
to others, it can bo truly said Mr. Foster contributed more 
tlian any other one person. 

In 1841 the Democratic majority in the State Senate was 
one ; in the House the Whigs were in the ascendant by 
three votes, giving them a majority on joint ballot. 

The Democratic senators, subsequently known as the 
" immortal thirteen," refused to join the House in conven- 
tion for the purpose of a senatorial election, and the State 
was left without her full representation in the United States 

In 1843 the Whigs were again in the ascendant, and Mr. 
Foster was elected senator a second time, and served until 
March 3, 1845. During this term of his senatorial life, Mr. 
Foster had the severest trial of all his political career. He 
advocated the admission of Texas into the Union, and his 
sense of duty to his native South prompted him to part 
company, for a little while at least, with a party to which 
he had so long clung alike in defeat as in victory. We 
give in his own words his painful feelings under the cir- 

In a letter dated Washington, Feb. 12, 1845, to a de- 
voted personal friend, he says, " No one can conceive the 
tortures I have suff"ered and am suflering in connection with 
the Texas question. I took my ground, as you will have 
seen from my declarations in the Senate, without saying a 
word or giving notice of my intentions to any member of 
that body. I did so for a reason which I also stated when I 
introduced my resolutions. This circumstance, in connec- 
tion with the fixed and I fear deleterious repugnance of the 
leading Whigs here against the measure, occasioned jeal- 
ousies and suspicions which it required no little skill and 
tact on my part to attack and overcome. Whilst all this 
was going on I was assailed by the locofocos with the most 
disagreeable flatteries and congratulations, which I always - 
repelled with a true and becoming spirit. And now, when 
I apprehend from the signs that all hope of annexation 
during this session of Congress is lost, you tell me that both 
parties at home, believing it to be in my power to accom- 
plish the task, look to me to secure the passage of the reso- 
lutions, and that success is essential to my fate, as some of 
my friends think. Was ever a poor, impotent devil in such 
a hopeless, helpless category ? I have done my duty. I 
have done the best I could, and I shall continue in tlie 
same fidelity ; but, alas ! I do despair, and my despair is 
almost without hope." 

The Presidential canvass of 1844 exceeded in excite- 

T '£€) & 

nr ^:-: siTT^r'./f: rf::. vkss'EF. . 



ment, bitterness, and animosity that of 1340. James K. 
Polk, one of Tennessee's favorite sons, was the Democratic 
nominee. Tlie canvass throughout was one continued 
scene of excitement beyond description. Victory again 
perched upon tlie Wiiig banner, and Mr. Clay carried tlie 
State by the bare majority of one hundred and thirteen 
votes. Mr. Poster was a participant in all this excitement 
and strife, battling manfully for his now personal as well as 
political friend, Henry Clay. In 1845 be received the 
Whig nomination as candidate for Governor, and again 
made a long and arduous campaign, speaking throughout 
the entire State. He was unsuccessful, his competitor, 
Aaron V. Brown, receiving a majority of some fourteen 
hundred in a poll of upwards of one hundred and fifteen 
thousand votes. Two consecutive years of intense excite- 
ment, with the attendant labor of traveling and speaking, 
made great inroads upon bis constitution, and laid the foun- 
dation of his subsequent sickness and suffering. 

In 1847, Mr. Foster lost his wife. She had been to bim 
a "help-meet" iud^ied, presiding over his hospitable home 
in a way to win the hearts of all, and in his absence watch- 
ing with a sleepless eye his personal interest, always dis- 
playing an energy of character that could not be surpassed. 
The day of her death was one of mourning with all, high 
and low, rich and poor alike. 

He subsequently lost two married daughters, in whom 
he had taken great pride, and to whom he had always been 
most tenderly attached, and was never again the social and 
pleasant companion of former days. 

In 1852, at the earnest solicitation of numerous friends, 
he consented to prepare an oration for the funeral obsequies 
of Mr. Clay, but when the day for its delivery came he 
was stretched upon a bed of suffering, unable to rise, and 
it was read to a large audience by the Hon. Andrew Ewing. 
This production has always been pronounced one of the 
best efforts of his life. 

From this time to bis death he was a confirmed invalid, 
and often his sufferings were intense. 

He died Sept. 14, 1854, with an abiding hope and 
faith that he would be reunited in another and better world 
to venerated parents and an idolized wife and daughters 
who had gone before. 

Upon the monument that marks his grave should be 
written : " He loved wife, children, and friends ; they 
loved him." 


This gentleman, who recently died in Nashville, in the 
eighty-sixth year of his age, was the oldest member of the 
Davidson County bar. He was born in Brooklyn, Conn., 
on the 21st of September, 1705, being the son of Ilev. 
Daniel Fogg, a native of New Hampshire and a worthy 
minister of the Protestant Episcopal Church. His mother, 
whose maiden name was Briuley, came of one of the most 
respectable families of New England, and was a lady of 
excellent character. 

The first ten years of Mr. Fogg's life were spent under 
the paternal roof, where he received such instruction as 
could bo obtaiued at homo and at the common schools. He 
was subsequently sent to an academy at Plaiufield, where 

he made rapid progress in Greek and L;itin, becoming well 
versed in these languages at the age of thirteen. At the 
conclusion of these academical studies a relative of his, — ■ 
Hon. William Hunter, of Newport, R. I., for many years 
a United States senator, and later in life minister to Brazil, 
— being delighted with the early talents of his young kins- 
man, invited him to pursue his studies, including that of 
law, in his family at Newport and under his own immediate 
instruction. This was most fortunate for the mental train- 
ing of our young student, as bis instructor was a gentleman 
of liberal culture and wide acquaintance with literature. 
While availing himself fully of these accessory advantages 
he made special preparation in that particular branch which 
he had chosen as his profession, and at the age of twenty 
was admitted to the Newport bar. 

Declining a generous invitation of Blr. Hunter to estab- 
lish himself with bim on equal terms in the profession at 
Philadelphia, — an unusually flattering proposition to a 
young man just admitted to the bar, — Mr. Fogg set bis 
face southward, and after spending a few days in Wash- 
ington continued his journey, and in February, 1818, 
reached Columbia, a beautiful and thriving village of 
Tennessee, about .forty miles south of Nashville. Here 
he opened an ofiioe, but was soon induced by Hon. Felix 
Grundy to remove to Nashville, which he did in the latter 
part of the year 1818. Since that day Nashville has been 
his home, the theatre of his various labors and triumphs, 
and the scene of the checkered experiences of joy and 
sou'ow of his long, useful, and honored life. No man had 
been more fully identified with all the important legal and 
judicial proceedings of this county and of the State for 
the last half-century up to the time of his retirement from 
active business than the subject of this notice. 

Tennessee, at the time of his advent to the then young 
State, was celebrated for her patriotism and for the "heroic 
achievements which had closed the last war with England 
in a blaze of glory." Nashville, though but a respectable 
village in size and population, was the acknowledged city 
of the State. Her bar, which in previous years had ac- 
quired a good degree of fame, was then renowned through- 
out the State and in many foreign parts for the learning, 
the great abilities, and the honorable bearing of its mem- 

At such a bar Mr. Fogg took his place, then young and 
inexperienced. He was not a man who, by boldness and 
self-confidence, would thrust himself into the professional 
field to reap prema^urely the fruits which he knew could 
only grow and ripen by patience and enlarged study. He 
could well afford to wait for the fruit to mature, that when 
the harvest came it might be full, rich, and ample. By 
his modesty and solid attainments he soon won the confi- 
dence and esteem of the leading members of the profession, 
and business followed as a natural consequence, slowly at 
first, but surely and cumulative, so that in a few years his 
professional labors were large and remunerative. He was 
first employed to make up pleadings, a most difficult branch 
of legal science; but in this bis great memory and won- 
derful acquaintance with law-books became apparent, and 
he was an acknowledged adept in that department of the 



While waiting for that recognition which his learning 
and talents justlj' entitled him to expect, he was constantly 
busy in his office and among his books, mingling in his 
daily exercises the study of law, politics, and abstruse 
literature, and never forgetting to keep up and extend his 
critical learning in the ancient classics. He was thus 
improving himself and enlarging those rich and abundant 
stores which subsequently obtained for his judgment and 
opinions almost oracular authority. 

Sir. Fogg was for nearly twenty-five years the law-part- 
ner of Hon. Epliraim H. Foster. The latter member was 
engaged in the law practice, and the former in the chancery 
practice. A living member of the bar, intimately acquainted 
with Mr. Fogg, says, " He was exceedingly well educated, 
and even profoundly read in the elements of the law. He soon 
made his mark, and before 1830 was one of the leaders of the 
bar of Tennessee. He was a man of high honor, of amiable 
temper, of pleasing and kindly manners, always ready to 
lielp and instruct the younger members of the bar, with 
whom he was universally popular. I acknowledge my ob- 
ligations to him in many a difficulty. He was the most 
learned lawyer of his day in Tennessee. He had an extra- 
ordinary memory, especially for dates and cases. Of him it 
might be truly said, he was a walking library. He was 
eminently a lawyer calculated for the Chancery and Su- 
preme Courts, not a jury lawyer. He was of a quick appre- 
hension and suggestive mind, able in exposition, a fluent 
speaker, and overflowing with learning, both classical and 
legal. It was a delight to hear him, even when one took 
no interest in the particular ease to which he addressed 
himself The late Chancellor Cahal, a man of strong mind 
and strong appetites, was in the habit of saying that he 
would rather hear Mr. Fogg speak than to eat. Mr. Fogg's 
brain did fairly ovciflow with learning. He was a long 
time a partner of Hon. E. H. Foster, and also for a while 
a partner of W. L. Brown. He never interfered in party 
politics, looking with some disdain upon the ignoble con- 
flicts to which they give rise. He was a mild Union man 
during the civil war, but found much to censure on both 
sides. He will leave behind him a character unstained 
and almost unapproachable. He was a true but large- 
hearted and liberal Christian. One might well say. May 
my last days be like his!" Mr. Fogg died on the 13th 
day of April, 1880, aged eighty-five years. 

" A large number of lawyers and citizens assembled yes- 
terday afternoon at two o'clock in the Circuit Court room to 
oifer a public tribute of respect to the memory of the late 
Francis B. Fogg, Esq. 

" The meeting was called to order by ex-Governor Neill 
S. Brown, who made a motion, which was adopted, that 
Judge J. C. Guild take the chair. Mr. Nicholas Vaughn 
and the American representative were chosen secretaries. 

" After the purpose of the meeting had been stated with 
some eulogistic remarks upon the character of the deceased 
and the recognition of his qualities due to the occasion, the 
chairman, upon motion, appointed a committee of six to 
draft and report suitable resolutions. The committee, com- 
posed of J. B. White, ex-Governor Neill S. Brown, Judge 
E. H. East, Gen. T. T. Smiley, George Stubblefield, and 
Judge J. M. Lea, made the following report : 

" ' This meeting have heard with deep regret of the death 
of our esteemed and distinguished friend and fellow-citizen, 
Hon. Francis B. Fogg, wliich occurred at the residence of 
Col. W. B. Reese, in this city, on the morning of the 
13th inst. 

" ' Mr. Fogg was born in Brooklyn, Conn., in 1795, and 
after receiving an education, both scholastic and legal, emi- 
grated to Tennessee in 1817, where he made his home for 
the remainder of his life. Upon his settlement in Tennes- 
see he commenced the practice of law, which he pursued 
with unremitting diligence for half a century, until age and 
disease disqualified him for labor. It is no disparagement 
to his many distinguished cotemporaries in the profession 
during that long and eventful period to say that he had few 
rivals and no superiors. His success was eminent. He 
commanded the confidence of the community in a remark- 
able degree. To a mind naturally strong and vigorous he 
united rare industry, and, with original scholarship of a 
high order, he was able to amass stores of learning on all 
subjects. He possessed a wonderful mepiory, by which he 
could recall cases and incidents that most others had for- 
gotten. He was familiar, not only with the history of the ; 
law, but with the history of this and other countries. 

" ' Mr. Fogg was not ambitious for office, and never sought 
promotion; but, in 1834, he was, by the voluntary action 
of this community, elected a member of the Constitutional 
Convention, and took a prominent part in its deliberations. In 
1 851-52 he was elected to the State Senate from this county, 
and aided efficiently in inaugurating our system of internal 
improvements, which has done so much for the State. He 
was also prominent in the establishment of the free schools 
of Nashville, which have accomplished so much for its pop- 

" ' In a word, he was the friend of education in all its 
phases, and contributed whatever he could to make society 
better and happier. It is injpossible now to tell how many 
of the statutes that adorn our code and measure and regu- 
late the rights of persons and property he was the author 
of. It was the habit of legislators to call upon him on all 
occasions lor aid in the preparation of bills. 

" ' But in this hour of sorrow at his loss, it is consoling to 
reflect upon his high moral nature. He lived a long life of 
struggle and toil, but no stain of vice rests upon his mem- 
ory. He was a Christian gentleman, — the highest eulogium 
that can be paid to any man, — and for half a century he was 
a consistent member of the Episcopal Church. But in 
religion, as in everything else, he was tolerant to all. If 
he could have had his way he would have made all men 
prosperous and happy, without any special superiority to 
himself; therefore, 

" ' Resolved, That in the death of Francis B. Fogg not 
only this bar, but the whole State, has sustained a great 

" ' Resulved, That we will attend his funeral at four 
o'clock this afternoon. 

" ' Resolved, That this preamble and resolutions be pub- 
lished in the city papers, and that a copy be transmitted to 
the family of the deceased.' 

" A motion was then made, and adopted, that a committee 
of one for each court be appointed to present the resolutions 



and request that they be spread upon the minutes. The 
followina; were appointed: Mr. R. McPhail Smith, for the 
Federal Court ; Gen. George Blaney, for the Circuit Court ; 
Mr. Matthew W. Allen, for the Chancery Court; Mr. J. 
W. Horton, Jr., for the Criminal Court ; and Judge John 
C. Gaut, for the Supreme Court. 

" While the committee on resolutions were absent, Hon. 
Horace H. Harrison made the following address, which, on 
motion of Gen. Maney, was directed to be published as an 
accompaniment to the resolutions : 

" ' Mr. Chairman : I approach the bier of the distin- 
guished and worthy dead, whose life and character we have 
met to speak of, with solemnity, affection, and veneration. 
1 " ' He illustrated in his long and useful career all the 
I sterling virtues which can adorn human character. He 
was true to himself, true to his friends, and true to his pro- 
fessions. He was never known to break a promise, or to be 
guilty of the slightest dissimulation. He was just in his 
dealings and just in holding the scales as he judged his 

! " ' He was prudent, temperate, discreet, and charitable. 
I He was quiet in his demeanor, unobtrusive in his manner, 
I and actually shrank from notoriety and prominence. He 
i never seemed to be conscious of his own intellectual power, 
or to realize that he possessed the most extensive and varied 
acquirements. While he was a giant in intellect and attain- 
ments, he was a child in the simplicity and modesty of his 
general bearing. Of his profound legal learning I need 
not speak in this presence. The reports of causes argued 
and decided in the highest court in our State for forty 
years, until within the last few years, are full of evidences 
! of his industrious labors, his skill in dealing with the intri- 
cate and difficult questions before that court, and of the 
' prominent role he played in building up our jurisprudence. 
" ' He has been thrown into the most intricate professional 
association with three generations of lawyers in Tennessee, 
[ and no man who ever lived in our State has been more 
i universally honored and respected by his brethren. 
I " ' No unkind word was ever heard to fall from his lips. 
No bitter resentments ever found a place in his bosom. 
Nearly thirty years ago I was an officer of the State Senate, 
of which he was a member, and during the eventful session 
of that body, of 1851-52, 1 learned to know him well. In 
the heated debates of that session he never lost his equality 
of temper or uttered an unkind word against his jjolitical 
opponents, and it was noticeable that at the close of the 
session the Democratic members of the Senate were -as 
warmly and affectionately devoted to him as were the 
Whigs with whom he acted. 

" ' He never sought an office. Those he filled so ably 
and conscientiously were thrust upon him. 

" ' He lived out more than his threescore-and-ten years, 
and died at peace with the world at the advanced age of 
eighty-five, a ripened sheaf ready to be garnered in that 
unseen country to which faith, hope, and love all, all com- 
bined to lead his tottering steps. 

" ' He has gone from us. No more will his voice bo heard 
in our temples of justice. No more his kindly greetings to 
lawyers, young and old, will be extended ; but his name we 
will find on the pages of our State Reports so frequently that 

we will be continually reminded of him, as in his day, the 
foremost lawyer in the State, and his character and example 
will, I trust, continually excite in all of us a desire to emu- 
late his sterling qualities of head and heart. 

" ' He needs no other monument to perpetuate his memory 
than those which he himself has erected. The Constitu- 
tion of 1834, the legislation which sent the locomotive 
through the valleys and under and over the hills and 
mountains of his adopted State, the jurisprudence of the 
State which he aided so powerfully in placing on firm 
foundations, and the public-school system of our beautiful 
and prosperous city, will speak his praises and remind us of 
the master-builder long after those who knew and loved 
him have passed away.' 

" Governor Neill S. Brown then addressed the meeting. 
He said he could never forget when he first met the distin- 
guished man. He had heard of him before he knew of 
Coke or Blackstone. He had supposed this eminent law- 
yer, like many other men in high life, was arrogant and 
self-sufficient. He had been surprised to find a man affable 
and simple of manner and generous of heart. And 
throughout his long acquaintance with him he found him 
what he now could say of him, the kindest man he ever 
knew. His life was an example to every young man. 
No finger of criticism could be put upon it. He acted out 
the principles of honor and of the Christian religion. 
Governor Brown here related incidents illustrative of the 
wonderful memory Mr. Fogg possessed, and which he made 
profitably useful to others around him as well as to himself. 
His death was a premonition to others of the bar who were" 
old in years. There was something to lament in the devas- 
tation of death, even among the aged. How old must a 
man grow whom we have known and loved that we should 
be willing to see him die ? It was not well for them to 
refrain to give just meed to Francis B. Fogg, for who 
had done as much as he ? His handiwork could be seen 
all through the history of Tennessee. His great, quiet, 
unobtrusive merit, contrasted with that which has laurels 
and plaudits from the multitude, was what won the hearts 
of those who knew him. There was no better way to close 
these words than to apostrophize him : 

"' Full of honors and of years, fare thee well ! 
While o'er thy tomb all Tennessee will .sigh, 
The lessons of thy life shall tell 

The young how to struggle and the old how to die.' 

" Mr. Jackson B. White here related of the deceased an 
incident of his great legal and historical learning which 
astonished those who knew of it, and which had been the 
cause of a great event. Shortly after the war a large gath- 
ering of Nashville lawyers were assembled at a session of 
the United States Court, over which Judge Trigg presided, 
and at which the fiimous test oath was administered. Mr. 
Fogg refused to take tlie oath, and gave his reasons in an 
exhaustive argument, which he sustained with a wealth of 
historical reference and illustration that combined to make 
his objections irresistible. When he finished his remarks, 
he left the court-room, followed by a number of citizens 
who with him had refused to take the oath. Judge Trigg, 
turning to Mr. White, told him to go after Mr. Fogg and 
induce him to write out his argument and present in the 



proper way, and the law would be repealed. Mr. Fogg de- 
clined to do this, as ho did not believe he could completely 
recall what he had said. It liad all occurred to him as he 
spoke. Col. W. B. Reese, however, wrote as much of it 
as he could recall, and it was presented to the court at 
Knoxville, where the same Judge Trigg declared the oath 
unconstitutional. Mr. Fogg was, perhaps, the first lawyer 
in the country to argue against the constitutionality of the 
act of Congress in prescribing the oath. 

" Several other citizens made warmly eulogistic allusions 
to the character and bore witness to the profound and 
varied learning of the distinguished lawyer. 

'■ The meeting was one which evoked deep interest. The 
older members of the bar always spoke with emotion when 
they talked of the pure life of the man they had known 
and honored and who was gone from among them. 

" Tiie meeting then adjourned." 

a brother of Francis B,, was a worthy and respectable man 
of business and a practitioner at the Nashville bar. 


Governor Brown was a student-at-law in Na.shville with 
Judge Trimble, and entered the profession in this city. 
He was born on the 15th of August, 1795, in the county 
of Brunswick, Va., the same county in which Gen. James 
Robertson was born. His father, the Rev. Aaron Brown, 
enlisted when not yet of lawful age for three years in the 
Revolutionary army. He was in the battle of Trenton, 
and participated in that ever-memorable march through 
the Jerseys wliere the course of AVashington's army was 
known to the enemy by the blood of its barefooted soldiery. 
He was also one of the sufferers in the encampment at 
Valley Forge during the severe winter of 1777-78, where 
disease, famine, and nakedness so often drew tears from 
the illustrious Washington. At the close of his term of 
service he returned to the county of Brunswick, where he 
continued to reside for nearly forty years in the midst of 
those who had witnessed his early and patriotic career, re- 
spected and honored by all as a faithful and useful minister 
of the gospel of the Methodist persuasion, an upright 
civil magistrate, a staunch Republican of the old Jefferson 
school, and an honest man. 

The subject of this memoir was the issue of his sec- 
ond marriage, with Elizabeth Melton (corrupted from Mil- 
ton), of Northampton Co., N. C. Except in the simplest 
tlements, Governor Brown was educated in the last-men- 
tioned State. He was sent when very young to Westray- 
ville Academy, in the county of Nash, in order to be placed 
under the care of Mr. John Babbitt, one of the best edu- 
cators of his time. After continuing there for two years, 
he was transferred in 1812 to the" University of North 
Carolina, at Chapel Hill. He graduated at this institu- 
tion in 181-1, iu a large class, of which Senator Mangum 
and Ex-Governor Manley, of North Carolina, were also mem- 
bers. The duty was assigned to him by the faculty and 
trustees of delivering the valedictory oration on commence- 
ment-day, and the service was performed in a manner 
which produced the most striking impression on the large 

as.sembly then in attendance. The collegiate career of but 
few young men is marked by incidents of sufficient im- 
portance to be noticed in a sketch like this. Industry in 
preparing for and punctuality in attending at the hour of 
recitation, as well as the most cheerful conformity to 
the rules of the institution, were the most striking charac- 
teristics of his educational course. And it should be added 
that these characteristics, becoming a confirmed habit, were 
of great service in after-life in his professional and public 

Having finished his educational career. Governor Brown 
returned to his parents, who in the previous year had re- 
moved to the county of Giles, in Tennessee. About the 
beginning of the year 1815 he entered upon the study of 
his profession in the office of the late Judge Trimble at 
Nashville. With this gentleman he continued to read for 
two years, and often referred to him as one of the most \ 
sympathetic, able, and upright men he ever knew. Hav- 
ing obtained a license, he opened an office in Nashville, 
and commenced practice with the. most fiattering prospects 
of success. ' 

About this time, however, Alfred M. Harris, who was ; 
engaged in an extensive practice in all the southern coun 
ties in Middle Tennessee, accepted a place on the bench, ; 
and .solicited Governor Brown to remove to the county of 
Giles and close up his extensive business for him. The 
opportunity was inviting, and that being the residence of 
his now aged parents, he determined to settle in that I 
county. Taking charge at once of an extensive practice, 
both civil and criminal, including the land-litigations, then 
an important and almost distinctive branch of the profes- 
sion. Governor Brown found all the resources of his mind 
brouglit into immediate requisition. No time was to be 
lost in idleness, none to be devoted to pleasure. One off' 
liis maxims about this period was " Always to be the first 
at court, and never to leave it until the adjourning order 
was made." Under such habits it was no matter of sur- 
prise to those who observed them that there were but few 
causes of importance in the counties in which he practiced 
in which he was not engaged. 

In a few years after Governor Brown commenced his 
career in Giles the late President Polk commenced his in 
Columbia, in the adjoining county of Maury. They soon 
formed a law-partnership, thereby extending the field of 
their professional labors into more counties than they could 
have done without this union of interests. This partner- 
ship continued for several years, until BIr. Polk engaged in 
his Congressional career. Its dissolution brought no termi- 
nation of that cordial friendship, personal and political, in 
which it had commenced, and which continued until the 
death of the late lamented President. Governor Brown 
continued engaged in profession until the year 1839, when, 
having been elected to Congress, he gave it up altogether. 
Much of the time in which he was engaged in regular and 
full practice ho was also a member of one branch or the 
other of the State Legislature. This service, being near 
home, and the counties he represented being those in which 
ho practiced, produced no material impediment to the prog- 
ress of his professional business. But the case was different 
iu his distant service in Congress. Governor Brown served 



as a senator from the counties of Lincoln and Giles at all 
the sessions of the Legislature, regular and called, from 
1821 to 1S27 inclusive, except the session of 1825, when 
he was not a candidate. In the session of 1831-32 he 
was the representative of the county of Giles in the other 
branch of the General Assembly. In this session, by the 
I order of the judiciary committee, he prepared an elaborate 
and able report, which he submitted to the House, on the 
subject of capital punishment, which attracted great atten- 
i tion throughout the country. 

Governor Brown first became a candidate for Congress in 
1839, and during the period of his Congressional services — • 
beginning 1839 and ending 1815 — he seems to have been 
j an active member, taking a part in nearly all the great 
i questions which came up during that eventful period of our 
political history. His services in Congress ended with the 
commencement of President Polk's administration. He 
I declined any office under the administration, and deter- 
mined to return home and devote himself to the education 
of ills children and the management of his own private 
i affairs. Before he reached liouie, however, he was nomi- 
■ Dated by the Democrats as a candidate for Governor of 
Tennessee, and met the news of his candidacy at Pittsburgh 
on his return. He hesitated several days before accepting 
the nomination. It conflicted with bis purpose to retire 
to private life, and opened a wide field of labor with 
what seemed a doubtful prospect of success. The Whig 
i strength had not yet been decisively broken in the State, 
( notwithstanding the prestige gained by the election of Mr. 
Polk to the Presidency. Besides, Blr. Polk, in organizing 
his administration and selecting his friends for different 
i offices, had withdrawn from the State some of the most 
influential and powerful members of the party. He himself 
' was gone, Hon. Cave Johnson was gone, Gen. Robert 
Armstrong was gone, and several others, whose weight had 
always been felt in State elections. Discouraging, however, 
as were the prospects, he finally determined to take the field 
I against Col. S. Foster, a late senator, and one of the most 
'' popular and able men of the Whig party. The discussions 
of the canvass turned chiefly on the tariff, the admission of 
I Texas, and the Oregon question. Governor Brown was 
I elected by a majority of fifteen or sixteen hundred, but in 
] the canvass of 1847 he was defeated by about half that 
number. At this period, and for some thne previous, 
political parties in Tennessee were so evenly balanced that 
they carried the State alternately against each other. 

In 1848, Governor Brown was a candidate for Presi- 
dential elector- at-large, and canvassed the State with great 

In 1850 he was a member of the Southern Convention, 
held at Nashville, and while he concurred fully in the reso- 
lutions passed by that body, dissented from and protested 
against the address. 

He was also a delegate to the Baltimore convention in 
1852, and introduced a resolution into that body, raising a 
committee of one from each State, to be appointed bj' the 
delegates of the same, to whom all the resolutions relative 
I to the principles or platform of the Democratic party should 
bo referred without debate. This postponing the discussion 
of resolutions till after the report of the committee was an 

important improvement, the utility of which was at once 
perceived by the convention, and the resolution was adopted. 
Governor Brown was unanimously appointed chairman of 
the committee, and reported the platform, which gave such 
general satisfaction to the party throughout the United 
States. He was, in foct, the great platform-maker of his 
party at most of the important conventions. 


Half a century ago Bailie Peyton and Henry A. Wise 
were practicing attorneys in Nasliville. Both have since 
become renowned names, — one in Tennessee and the other 
in Virginia, their native States. 

Bailie Peyton was born in Sumner County in 1803. In 
1824 he was admitted to the Davidson County bar, and 
soon after formed a partnership with Henry A., then 
a young man about of his own age, whom he met for the 
first time in Nashville. Being of a congenial disposition, 
they at once became fiimiliar and intimate friends. Nature 
had lavished her gifts upon both, and at the commencement 
of their career hosts of admiring friends predicted for them 
alike quite as much distinction as it was afterwards their 
fortune to acquire. The partnership lasted about two years, 
wlien Mr. Wise returned to win honor and distinction in a 
most brilliant political career in his native State. Mr. 
Peyton remained to become no less renowned in Tennessee. 

Mr. Peyton was a Whig, and was thirtjr years of age 
when he first ran for Congress, in 1833. His competitor 
was Col. Archie Overton. Peyton was elected, and was 
returned twice afterwards, serving till 1839. He was 
lieutenant-colonel of a Louisiana regiment in the Mexican 
war, and was conspicuous for his gallantry. He entered 
heartily and eloquently into the canvass for both of the 
successful Whig candidates, Harrison and Taylor. The 
latter appointed him United States district attorney at 
New Orleans, and, with the concurrence of the United States 
Senate, sent him as minister to Chili. By President Pierce 
he was tendered the portfolio of the war department, but 
declined it, preferring to engage in the practice of law in 
California. How long he practiced there we are not in- 

Sir. Peyton possessed no great legal learning, and as a 
Icnvijer was not ranked high by the profession generally ; 
but as an advocate and political speaker he had few equals. 
He possessed wit, fervor, strong common sense, a vehement 
and impressive delivery, fluency, imagination, and personal 
magnetism. His conversational powers were of a high 
order, and his friends were devotedly attached to him. 

Throughout his life BIr. Peyton was noted for his fond- 
ness for the turf, and it is said that no man in the South 
did more to maintain its purity and tone. He got up the 
great Peytona stake of forty-three thousand dollars, which 
drew thousands of people to the Nashville race-course in 
1843. He was a man of fine physical appearance, "and, 
taken all in all, was one of Tennessee's greatest sons." He 
died at his home near Gallatin, Aug. 18, 1878, aged seventy- 
five years. 


Henry Hollingsworth, admitted in 1835, was a self-made 
man ; he possessed little learning, no early advantages, and 



forced his way up to a good position as a politician and 
lawyer by native strength and perseverance. He did not 
remain long at the bar, but acquiring considerable property 
by his marriage, he retired to the country, where he died 
many years ago. 


Eeturn J. Meigs, who, with Judge William F. Cooper, 
compiled the " Code of Tennessee," practiced law for many 
years in Athens, E. Teun., and afterwards removed to 
Nashville, where he ran as brilliant and useful a career 
as any lawyer or jurist in the State. He was concerned for 
nearly thirty years in the management of a large number of 
diifioult and important causes. He was not only learned in 
the law, but in ancient and modern languages, and was a 
comparative philologist of no common attainments. He 
is the author of a voluminous digest of the judicial de- 
cisions of the State of Tennessee, a work which is regarded 
by many as the most skillfully compiled book of the kind 
to be found anywhere in the United States. Mr. Meigs, 
being an uncompromising Union man, and unable to concur 
in the measures which carried the State in favor of seces- 
sion in 1861, removed to Wa,?hington, and is now holding 
a very responsible official position under the government. 

It has been remarked that when Mr. Meigs left the city 
of Nashville he left no equal behind him in general scholar- 
ship, and no superior in legal attainments. The only man then 
living who could risk a comparison with him was the ven- 
erable Francis B. Fogg, a gentleman who, for deep scholarly 
research and unstained purity of morals, had no superior 
west of the Alleghany Mountains. 


William L. Brown commenced his legal career in Clarks- 
ville, Tenn. He is reputed to have been a native of South 
Carolina. He was a man of fine natural endowments and 
a persevering and untiring student of books. Such was 
his tenacity of purpose that no difficulty could turn him 
aside. His energy verged upon combativeness. He had 
little claim to be recognized as an orator of the highest 
grade, but he always spoke with earnestness, precision, and 
force. His elaborate speeches were free from flowery rhet- 
oric, which he utterly despised, and were models of con- 
densed logic and argument. The great peculiarity of Judge 
Brown was that he sought neither argument, illustration, 
nor inspiration outside of his large and well-selected library 
of law-books, believing these to be the richest and best- 
supplied armory from which to draw his weapons for every 
encounter, great or small, in the legal arena. He was ap- 
pointed with Hon. Jacob Peck one of the judges of the 
Supreme Court in 1822, in the place of Judge Emmerson, 
resigned, and held the office two years, when he resigned. 


John M. Bass was admitted to the bar in 1830. He 
was a young man of fine estate ; married a daughter of 
Hon. Felix Grundy, and having no taste for the law, never 
practiced it. He was a man of fine abilities, of liberal 
education, and in every respect a first-rate citizen. He was 
an active promoter of every scheme for the advancement of 

the interests of Nashville ; was mayor of the city several 
times, president of the Union Bank, and an extensive 
planter in Louisiana and Arkansas. Though decided in 
his party politics, he was entirely above the tricks and de- 
vices of the ordinary politician, and was universally re- 
spected for his good sense and probity. Few men have 
impressed themselves more powerfully upon the city of 
their residence. He died a few years since in New Orleans, 
having become much embarrassed by losses consequent upon 
the civil war, and by some unfortrfnate suretyships. 


Henry B. Shaw, admitted in 1830, was a young man of 
fine talents, but did not practice long in Nashville. He 
died young, — it is believed, in St. Louis. 


David Campbell is still alive and a lawyer of high stand- 
ing in Franklin. He was admitted to the Davidson bar in 
1831, and was chancellor of this district a short time after 

the late war. 


William T. Brown was an able lawyer, and was for some 

time a circuit judge. He afterwards removed to Memphis, 

where he held a high rank at the bar. He has been dead 

quite a number of years. 


Morgan W. Brown came to the bar some time prior to 
1830. He was for a number of years judge of the United 
States Court for the Middle District of Tennessee. He 
was a man of considerable reading and literary taste, a fine 
miscellaneous writer, for some time editor of one of the 
leading newspapers of Nashville, and a gentleman of pol- 
ished manners and high social qualities. He was a brother 
of Hon. William L. Brown, one of the judges of the 
Supreme Court. 


The subject of this memoir was the youngest of six 
brothers, sons of Nathan Ewing, and grandsons of Andrew 
Ewing, the first clerk of the County Court of Davidson 
County. He was born in Na.shville in 1813 ; graduated at 
the University of Nashville in 1831 ; was admitted to the 
bar in 1835, and formed a partnership in law in 1837 with 
his brother, Hon. Edwin H. Ewing, now of Murfreesboro'. 
This business connection continued till 1851, when the 
latter relinquished practice for a time and made a tour in 
Europe. Andrew Ewing, though somewhat careless in his 
diction, was easy, fluent, and unembarrassed at the bar from 
the first, and was a speaker of great persjiasiveness and 
force. He was also a diligent and laborious student, and 
strictly attentive to business. Those best acquainted with 
him kt the outset of his career felt sure that he only needed 
time to make him deservedly prominent at the bar. And 
it so turned out. He was one of those men (not very 
common) who grow in knowledge, wisdom, and ability so 
long as they live. While giving diligent attention to pro- 
fessional business, he also mingled considerably in the pol- 
itics of the day as a speaker and counselor. 



He was an earnest, moderate, and liberal Democrat, 
while his brother was a Whig. While in business together 
they did not discuss their political ditFereiices, and, indeed, 
found in some of their more private interviews that these 
diiferences were not so radical after all. In 184-t, and ever 
after, he was much sought for, at home and in other parts 
of Tennessee, as a political speaker. In discussion and de- 
bate, whether at law or in politics, he feared no opponent, 
and liad few equals. Especially were his speeches eflFective 
and powerful, for many years before his death, in the Cir- 
cuit and Criminal Courts, and in the argument of the cases 
which went up by appeal from these to the Supreme Court. 

He was liberal, kindly, sympathetic, and very popular, 
not only with his own party, but also with the MHiigs. In 
1846-47, when his brother and partner was in Congress, 
he gave attention, not to the law branch of their business, 
which was his own, but also to the chancery branch, which 
was his partner's, and to the entire satisfaction of their 
clients. He was liberal in his purchase of law-books, and 
studied them well. He was an excellent case-lawyer, as 
well as one thoroughly imbued with a knowledge of elements 
and principles. 

His party was largely in the minority in the Nashville . 
Congressional .District, and he did not therefore seek office 
at first, but in 1849 his friends thought proper to bring 
him forward as a candidate for Congress. He was elected 
against a vigorous, active, and energetic opponent, so much 
stronger was he than his party. He served two sessions in 
Congress with credit, having made two respectable speeches; 
but not having much taste for the House of Representa- 
tives, and not being willing to impose on his friends again 
an arduous struggle against a party majority, he declined a 
renomination by his party. 

At the political convention which first nominated Andrew 
Johnson for Governor, Andrew Ewing was first nominated 
by acclamation after a number of efibrts to nominate others, 
but he declined, and Johnson was finally the nominee. 
Andrew Ewing was a prominent candidate before the 
Legislature for United States senator when Senator N ichol- 
son was elected, in 1860. 

Upon the erection of a statue to Gen. Jackson at Mem- 
phis, by public request Andrew Ewing delivered an address 
on Jackson's character and services, which was one of a high 
order of merit, and was received with general applause. 

In 1851 he formed a partnership with Hon. W. F. 
Cooper. This continued with mutual satisfaction till the 
year 1801, when Blr. Cooper was elected a judge of the 
Supreme Court. A partnership was then foimed between 
Mr. Ewing and John Marshall, of Franklin, but this was 
unfruitful of professional results, as the civil war came on 
immediately, and they both died before it ended. 

Though a sincere Democrat, he was not a secessionist. 
On the contrary, he struggled with all his might to make 
the Union vote of February, 1861, as large as possible, 
thus offending many of his old associates and admirers. 
With many others, he yielded to the overwhelming current 
which set in against the North after Mr. Lincoln's procla- 
mation. He retired South with the Southern army in the 
spring of 18U2, making every sort of sacrifice of business 
and property, and was appointed one of a permanent court- 

martial of lawyers, which sat until towards the close of the 
war, under the commands of Bragg and Johnson. He was 
much beloved and admired in the army. He died in 1864 
at Atlanta, Ga., worn out and overborne by a complication 
of diseases, the result of exposure, anxiety, and excessive 
labor. He left behind him a character without stain or re- 
proach. He was twice married, and his last wife survives 


This gentleman is connected by his father, Nathan, and 
by his grandfather, Andrew Ewing, with the first settlers 
of Nashville. Both of his progenitors were men of prom- 
inence, and among the best educated of the pioneers of the 
Cuniberland Valley, being descended from the intelligent 
and enterprising Scotch-Irish stock, an infusion of which 
constituted so large and influential an element in the early 
population of Bliddle Tennessee. The names of the Ewings, 
Andrew and Nathan, appear in the County Court records 
as clerks, successively, from 1783 to 1830, a period of forty- 
seven years. The former was the chief scribe, and did 
most of the public writing, as well as much for private 
individuals, under the temporary form of government which 
preceded Davidson County. Both Andrew and Nathan 
Ewing were well educated for men of their times, with 
that tendency to self-reliant study and mental discipline 
which has been prominently characteristic of their de- 

Edwin H. Ewing was born in Nashville on the 2d of 
December, 1809, and, from the age of three years till his 
recent removal to Murfreesboro' resided in this city con- 
stantly, with the exception of temporary absences on offi- 
cial duties at Washington and in travels abroad. He 
graduated at the University of Nashville in 1827, received 
in due course the degree of A.M., and within a few years 
past the honorary title of LL.D. He studied law without 
a preceptor, using the books of an older brother who had 
studied but did not practice the profession, and appealing 
for aid in his difficulties to that truly learned and generous 
member of the Nashville bar, Hon. Francis B. Fogg, than 
whom no man could be found better qualified to correctly 
guide his inquiries or more ready to extend to him a help- 
ing hand. Mr. Ewing cherishes a grateful remembrance of 
the kindness of Mr. Fogg in those day.s of preparation for 
the profession, and for the sympathy shown him in his early 
difficulties and struggles, as well as the uniform courtesy re- 
ceived from him on all occasions. Mr. Ewing obtained a to practice in 1830, and was regularly admitted to 
the bar in 1831 . He then formed a partnership with James 
P. Grundy, which continued till 1837. During this time 
they did a large amount of business, and Mr. Ewitig was 
growing in character as a lawyer. In January, 1837, he 
dissolved the partnership with Mr. Grundy, and formed a 
partnership with his younger brother, Andrew Ewing, who 
had shortly before come to the bar. In 1840 he took a 
very active part in Gen. Harrison's election, having become 
a Whig in the previous canvass of Van Buren, White, and 
Harrison. This involved him in some personal conflicts 
and quarrels, and made him so far a favorite of his own 
party that he was elected along with James Campbell, Esq., 



without opposition, to the General Assembly of 184-2. In 
that body he gained in reputation by several able speeches. 

Meantime, he married in December, 1832. His wife 
died in 1844, and he has not since married. 

In the canvass of 1844 he took an active part in favor 
of Mr. Clay's candidacy and against Mr. Polk ; and by re- 
quest delivered an oration at the laying of the corner-stone 
of the Capitol at Nashville, on the 4th of July, 1845. In 
the winter of that year he was elected to fill a vacancy in 
the Nashville district in Congress, Hon. I. H. Peyton (a 
brother of Bailie Peyton) having been elected and having 
died without taking his seat. He served two sessions in 
Congress, from December, 1845, to Blarch 4, 1847, and 
might have been re-elected had he not declined on account 
of a "distaste to a seat in the house." While in the 
house he delivered several able speeches, — one on the 
Oregon question; one on the tarilF of 184G, which his 
room-mate, Hon. Alexander H. Stephens, of Georgia, said 
was the best delivered on the Whig side of the question, 
or against the bill ; one on the river and harbor bill of 1846 
(which, b}' the way, contained some doctrines he would 
hardly indorse now) ; and one on the Mexican war. He de- 
livered also some other speeches of minor importance. With 
characteristic modesty, Mr. Ewing has said, "I do not 
think I made much character in Congress." His friends 
think this an underestimate of his services and of the credit 
generally awarded him. 

In the mean time his reputation as a lawyer increased. 
He sat frequently as a special judge on the supreme bench, 
delivered an opinion in the great Winchester case, which 
has been a good deal talked about, and has been as much 
cited as any case in the courts of Tennessee, together with 
several other opinions in important cases. His partnership 

with his brother continuing and their 

in 1850 he made a fortunate speculation in 

business enlarging, 

real estate, 

which rendered him independent of further practice ; and 
this, together with impaired health, induced him to carry 
out a purpose which he had long cherished, of somewhat 
extensive travel. He dissolved his business relations with 
his brother, and in April, 1851, being forty-one years of 
age, he left for a tour in Europe. He was absent about 
eighteen months, visiting England, Scotland, Ireland, 
France, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Italy, Egypt, 
Palestine, Western Asia, Constantinople, and Greece, 
making extensive notes of travel, and writing many long 
letters. Upon his return he was urgently solicited to write 
a book of travels, and had some idea of it, but has never 
put it into execution. 

In 1852 he delivered, by request, at Nashville an oration 
on the death and services of Daniel Webster, then lately de- 
ceased. This oration compares favorably with Mr. Ewing's 
many able productions. He continued to practice law, taking 
fees only in important cases, till 185G, when he went to 
Rutherford County and lived with one of his daughters, 
then lately married. She removed to Nashville in 18G0 ; 
he returned with her, and lived in the city again one year, 
or until the winter of 1860-61, when he went and lived 
with his son in Rutherford County till the war broke out. 
He still, however, kept his citizenship in Davidson County, 
and kept up constant communication by letters and visits, 

He spoke and voted for the Union in the election of Feb- 
ruary, 1861. Mr. Lincoln's proclamation in April raised 
a storm in Tennessee which carried almost every one into 
opposition to the North. Blr. Ewing's sympathies being 
with the Southern people,'and no neutrality being possible, 
he naturally went with his State, and took a position against 
coercion with John Bell, John Marshall, Andrew Ewing, 
Ncill S. Brown, and others. In the latter part of 1863, 
however, when he saw that Tennessee was irrecoverably 
lost to the South, he advised the people of the State who 
were staying at home to submit to the Federal government. 
The letter containing this advice was published, and sub- 
jected him to much obloquy, and being brought out again 
at the time of his candidacy for judge of the Supreme 
Court, probably defeated his election to that bench. 

After the war Mr. Ewing formed a partnership and re- 
commenced the practice of the law at Murfreesboro', prac- 
ticing also in the courts at Nashville. He has appeared in 
a number of very important cases since that period ; notably 
he was one of the counsel for Judge Frazer when he was 
impeached before the Senate in 1868. He was also, in 
connection with Judge Cooper and William B. Reese, Esq., 
counsel for the State in the suit for the sale of all the delin- 
quent railroads in Tennessee under the act of 1870, and 
went with Judge Cooper to Wa.shington to resist the ap- 
pointment of a receiver for the Nashville and Chattanooga 
Railroad. They successfully accomplished the object of 
their mission. 

Mr. Ewing is now seventy years of age; his health is 
good, and his mental faculties scarcely impaired. He has 
some important cases yet unfinished, but he has been aim- 
ins for some time to draw his lesal business to a close. He 
has been a voluminous newspaper writer and an omnivor- 
ous reader of books, is fond of metaphysical studies, and 
has been much sought after as a public lecturer. 


William Friorson Cooper was born in Williamson Co., 
Tenn , on the 11th of March, 1820. He was reared in 
Blaury County, and since early manhood has resided in 
Nashville, where his high reputation as a lawyer and jurist 
has been attained. By both parents Judge Cooper is de- 
scended from the Scotch-Irish race of the north of Ireland, 
which constitutes so large a portion of the population of the 
Southern States. Both families, the Coopers and the 
Friersons, settled in South Carolina, his paternal grand- 
father being a captain in Sumter's brigade during the - 
Revolutionary war, and both moved to Middle Tennessee 
early in the present century. 

Being sent early to school and having a ready memory, 
he was pushed forward beyond his years, and was always in 
classes of which he was the youngest member, and so con- 
tinued till he graduated at college when only eighteen years 
of age. The strain upon his mental faculties was, however, 
as he is in the habit of saying, moderated by the absence 
of emulation, which he was too young to feel in its full 
force, and by an uncontrollable appetite for general reading. 
At twelve years of age he spent a winter in New Orleans, 
where he learned the French language and acquired a taste 
for French literature. In the summer of 1834, Mr. Polk, 



then a member of Congress from Maury County, concluded 
to take his youngest brother and two of his nephews to 
Yale College to finish their education, and young Cooper 
was persuaded to join them. Under the charge of the 
future President of the United States, these young Tennes- 
seeans paid their respects to the then President, the vener- 
. able chief from their own State, and bowed before the tomb 
of the first President. They entered the same class at Yale 
College, were joined by two other students from their State, 
making perhaps a larger number of Tennesseeans than were 
ever together there at one time before or since, and five of 
them graduated in the class of 1838. 

Upon his return home one of the leading lawyers of 
Columbia, who needed a young man in whom he could 
have confidence to aid him in his heavy practice, offered to 
give him an equal partnership as soon as he could obtain a 
license. But the young graduate considered himself un- 
fitted' for the contests of the forum, and declined the gener- 
ous offer. He had previously concluded to study medicine, 
and diligently applied himself accordingly for the next two 
years, taking during the time a course of lectures at the 
University of Pennsylvania. This period was sufficient to 
satisfy him that while the study of the profession chosen 
was profoundly interesting, its practice was not suited to 
his tastes. Having ascertained this fact, he made up his 
mind to change his profession, and immediately commenced 
the study of law. The lawyer already mentioned renewed 
his offer, and in the same month that he came of ago the 
subject of our notice obtained a license to practice law, and 
went into partnership witli the Jate chancellor, Samuel D. 

The next three years were spent in active business and 
diligent study, which so increased the self-confidence of 
the young lawyer that he determined to seek a wider field. 
He spent the fall and part of the winter in New Orleans, 
being inclined to remove to that city. On his return he 
remained a few days at Nashville to argue some of his 
cases in the Supreme Court, and was so much pleased that 
he concluded to spend at least the ensuing summer in that 
city. Understanding his intentions, the Hon. A. 0. P. 
Nicholson, lute the chief justice of the Supreme Court of 
Tennessee, who had then only recently removed from 
Columbia to Nashville, kindly took him into partnership. 

Nashville thus became the home, and, as it proved, the 
permanent home, of the young lawyer. The comparative 
leisure of the next few years gave him the opportunity of 
deepening the foundations of his legal studies. Ho com- 
menced at the same time, as a mode of disciplining his 
faculties and increasing the accuracy of his knowledge of 
the State decisions, to report the opinions of the Supreme 
Court for one of the daily papers, preparing the head- 
notes, and, with occasional suggestions from the Hon. W. 
B. Turley. one of the judges of the court, condensing the 
opinions themselves when too long to be inserted tM extenso. 
This he continued to do for several years. At the Decem- 
ber term, 1816, of the Supreme Court, his arguments 
were twice favorably noticed by the judge who delivered 
the opinion in the cases, one of these arguments receiving 
the unusual, if not unprecedented, honor of being expressly 
referred to and adopted by the court. (Brown vs. Vanlier, 

7 Hum. 239.) All of the judges of that court treated 
them with the kindness which was their uniform charac- 
teristic towards young men, but he formed an intimate and 
cordial friendship with Judge Turley, who, to a lofty intel- 
lect and genial disposition, added a fondness for general 
literature, which was a powerful connecting-link between 

In 1851, upon the death of Chancellor Cahal, the Nash- 
ville bar united in recommending Judge Cooper to fill the 
vacancy, but he declined to allow his name to be used when 
he understood that Judge Nicholson, who had returned to 
Columbia, was willing to accept the position. And after- 
wards, when Judge Nicholson resigned, he warmly sup- 
ported Judge Frierson for the office. In the latter part of 
the same year he entered into partnership in the practice 
of the law with the Hon. Andrew Ewing, which continued 
for ten years, and until he was elected one of the judges 
of the Supreme Court. By the terms of the partnership, 
Judge Cooper took exclusive charge of the chancery busi- 
ness, and Mr. Ewing of the business of the law-courts, 
each following his cases to the Supreme Court. The equity 
business, into which Judge Cooper thus stepped, had been 
built up by the Hon. Edwin H. Ewing, then and now one 
of the first lawyers and public men of the State, who had 
concluded to spend a few years in Europe. It taxed his 
powers to the utmost, and increasing as it did with the 
growth of the city, it kept him incessantly employed during 
this period. 

On the 8th of February, 1852, the Legislature of the 
State appointed Return J. Bleigs, Esq., and Judge Cooper 
to revise and digest the general statutes of the State. 
Under this appointment the present code of Tennessee was 
prepared, and passed into a law by the General Assembly of 
1857-58. Both revisers separately went over and digested 
the whole body of the law, compared together their separate 
work, and united in the drafts submitted to the legislative 
committee, and which were adopted by the Legislature 
almost without modification. The analytic plan of the code 
is, however, the exclusive work of Judge Cooper. 

In 1854, upon the change in the State Constitution giv- 
ing the election of judicial officers to the people, Judge 
Cooper was a candidate for the office of attorney-general 
and reporter, but was defeated, his successful competitor 
being the Hon. John L. T. Sneed, then a deservedly popu- 
lar member of the opposite political party, and subsequently 
one of the judges of the Supreme Court. In October, 
1861, he became a candidate to till the vacancy on the 
bench of the Supreme Court, occasioned by the resignation 
of the Hon. Robert L. Caruthers, and was elected. The 
courts were, however, almost immediately thereafter closed 
by the late civil war, and upon the reorganization of the 
State government in 18G5, new judges were appointed by 
the executive. The enforced leisure occasioned by the 
war gave to Judge Cooper the opportunity of carrying out 
a long-cherished plan of a trip to Europe. Some of the 
fruits of this trip appeared in the Southern Law Review, 
published in St. Louis after the civil war, under the style 
of " English and French Law"' and " Modern Theories of 

Upon the reopening of the courts at the close of the 



war, Judge Cooper resumed the practice of his profession, 
confining himself to chancery cases. He was in partner- 
sliip for a few years with the Hon. Robert L. Caruthers, 
his predecessor on the Supreme Bench, and upon his re- 
tirement with Iiis hrotlier, the Hon. Henry Cooper, kite 
member of Congress. In November, 1872, he was ap- 
pointed by the Governor chancellor of the Nashville chan- 
cery district, and in August, 1874, he was elected by the 
people to the same place. His decisions while upon the 
bench have been published in three volumes of " Tennessee 
Chancery Reports," the last of which appeared in 1879. 

In the year 1870, Judge Cooper superintended the repub- 
lication of the early " Tennessee Reports." He prepared or 
re\wote the head-notes of the first eight volumes of these 
reports, with notes and references. These volumes, together 
with a new annotated edition of " Meigs' Reports," were 
republished in 1870. Upon the republication of the " Re- 
ports of the Supreme Court of Tennessee," begun in 1875, 
by G. I. Jones & Co., of St. Louis, Judge Cooper con- 
sented to edit the entire work. He has since completed 
the forty volumes, with annotations and references re- 
written,- — a herculean labor, exhibiting in its results great 
care, industry, and legal acumen. Of twenty-nine of the 
volumes he has written the head-notes. He has also just 
finished re-editing an edition of " Daniels' Chancery Prac- 
tice" fur Little, Brown & Co., law-publisliers, of Boston, 
bringing down the references and annotations to the present 
time. In tliis work he has examined nearly a thousand 
volumes of reports. 

In August, 1878, Judge Cooper was elected one of the 
judges of the Supreme Court of the State for the constitu- 
tional term of eight years from Jan. 1, 1879. The duties 
of this high and responsible position he is now discharging 
with the modesty, ability, and address which have charac- 
terized him in all his official and professional relations, 
together with his other various and arduous labors in the 
departments of jurisprudence. His works will be a monu- 
ment of which his native State will have reason to be 

It should be stated, also, that Judge Cooper, among his 
other labors, has succeeded in cstablisliing a bar association 
at Nashville, and in building up in connection therewith a 
law-library now numbering about three thousand volumes. 
As a suitable tribute the American Bar Association, which 
convened at Saratoga in the summer of 1879, elected him 
one of its vice-presidents. 

Judge Cooper is now sixty years of age. The longevity 
of his ancestors and his temperate and orderly habits and 
cheerful disposition point to the conclusion that many years 
of useful labor yet remain to him. Those years will yield 
the greatest benefits to society if consumed in the labors of 
judicial science. It may with some degree of truth be said 
of a judge, as of a poet, that he is born, not made. We 
mean that the judicial temperament is innate in some men. 
Judge Cooper is one of those men. He loves the adminis- 
tration of justice. The possession of an ample competence 
places him beyond the reach of every ambition, except 
the ambition that has moved the greatest and best of 
judges, — the desire to do right and to leave behind an hon- 
orable name. The death of his former partner, the great 

and learned Chief Justice Nicholson, reduced the judges 
of the Supreme Court to five, the number provided for by 
tlie revised Constitution of 1870. At the next election 
Judge Cooper took his place upon the bench. Says a late 
writer, intimately acquainted with the character and ser- 
vices of Judge Cooper, " We shall not be contented to see 
his usefulness limited to that position," — the Supreme Court 
of Tennessee. " For twelve years the South has had no 
representative on the supreme bench of the United States. 
The exclusion from the national court of last resort of 
a section embracing one-third of the population of the 
Union — a section which has contributed to that bench 
such great names as Marshall, Taney, Catron, and Camp- 
bell ; a section, too, whose laws and institutions contain so 
much that differs from those of the rest of the Union — 
cannot be expected to last much longer. The South is 
fairly entitled to her representative on that bench, — unless 
she is unable to produce lawyers worthy of that high posi- 
tion. She can certainly produce one such man, and that 
is the subject of this sketch. When it shall become neces- 
sary to look to the South for a suitable appointee to that 
great court the general consent of the bar will, unless we 
are greatly mistaken, point to him." 


John Trimble, counselor and attorney-at-law, son of 
James Trimble, was born in Roane Co., E. Tenn., on the 
7th day of February, 1812. He was educated at Nashville 
at a classic school taught by Moses Stevens, and at the 
Nashville University, whose president was Philip Lindsley. 

In 1836 he was elected attorney-general for the Nash- 
ville district, which position he held for six years. 

In 1843 he was nominated and elected by the Whigs to 
the General Assembly. 

In 1845 he was nominated and elected to the State 

In 1847 he refused a renomination, as also a nomination 
to the United States Congress. 

He preferred his professional pursuits, and he acquired 
a large practice in all the courts, criminal, law, and equity, 
in both State and United States courts. 

He soon found himself in possession of as large an estate 
as he desired to have, and losing his taste for the profes- 
sion he gradually retired from it. He acquired a taste for 
literary pursuits, and his ruling passion became love of 
knowledge and culture, mental and moral. He had ac- 
quired a large and select library of miscellaneous works, 
the best English and American authors, and he gave his 
time almost wholly to the acquisition of knowledge and 

In 1859 he was placed by the Whig party on their ticket 
as a candidate to the State Senate. He was elected with- 
out canvassing, and almost without opposition. 

He was in the extra session of the Senate in January, 
1861 ; also in the extra se.ssion of April, 1861, during 
which session was passed the " ordinance of secession," 
against which and all acts tending towards secession of 
the State he voted, being an '-unconditional" Union and 
National man. When the act of secession was passed he 
resigned his seat as a senator and retired to private life. 





- Cr'S^^^^ 



During the entire civil war he was well known to be a 
National Union man, with firm convictions and faith in 
favor of the United States government. 

His firm convictions were that the Rebellion ought not 
and could not succeed, and if by possibility it did it would 
be the greatest of calamities to the South and Southwest ; 
and that the State had been betrayed by its public men 
and forced out of the Union. Yet during the entire war 
his opinions were respected, and he was treated kindly and 
with respect by all, which he will ever hold in grateful 

In 1862, Justice Catron, of the United States Supreme 
Court and circuit judge for Tennessee, brought with him 
from Washington a commission for Mr, Trimble from Mr. 
Lincoln, appointing him United States district attorney. 
This position he held for two years and then resigned. 

In ] 865 he was again elected to the State Senate, and 
as such sat in the " Reconstruction General Assembly," 
and aided in reconstructing the State government. 

While in the Senate at this time he voted for the Thir- 
teenth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States 
Constitution ; also in favor of unicersal suifrage and the 
re-enfranchisement of the people of the State. 

In 1867 he was elected a member of Congress, and sat 
as a member of the Fortieth Congress in the House of 
Representatives. As such member he voted for the Fif- 
teenth Amendment and for the restoration of the Southern 
States to the Union. 

He declined to be a candidate for re-election, and returned 
again to private life and his " books." 

He liberated his servants he/ore the emancipation procla- 
mation of President Lincoln, from a conviction that it was 
an emancipation of the whites from the greatest of evils, 
and his views were from a white man's standpoint looking 
at their enlightened interests and welfare. 


Hon. Ncill S. Brown, ex-Governor of Tennessee, is a 
native of Giles County, in this State, where he was born on 
the 18th of April, 1810. His parents were descendants of 
Scotch Presbyterians, respectable and enterprising people, 
and were among the pioneers of Giles County when that 
region of country was a wilderness. In such a new coun- 
try educational advantages were limited, so that the subject 
of this sketch received little more than a knowledge of the 
common English branches up to the age of seventeen, at 
which time he was thrown upon his own resources, and 
took to teaching school as a means' of promoting his ardent 
desire to obtain a collegiate enucation. In this laudable 
undertaking he was not disappointed, his energy and ambi- 
tion being sufficient to carry him through the multiplied 
difficulties and hardships which beset his path until he had 
completed, unassisted, his college and his law course, and 
been admitted to the bar with as brilliant and encouraging 
prospects as most young lawyers. 

In 1836 he served as a soldier in the Seminole war in 
Florida, and upon his return in 1837 was elected a member 
of the Legislature from Giles County. He soon acquired 
in politics not only influence, but considerable ambition, 
being a fluent and efi'ective speaker both in the hall of legis- 

lation and upon the stump. His oratory was of that earn- 
est and persuasive kind, mixed with anecdote, keen wit, and 
satire, which renders a speaker popular and effective with _ 
juries and before the people. When the great political par- 
ties were formed he took an active and prominent part as a 
Whig, and after a very spirited contest was elected Gover- 
nor in 18-17. He was an honorable and popular chief 
magistrate. In 1850 he was appointed United States min- 
ister to Russia, and was abroad in that capacity about three 
years. In 1855 he was chosen to represent Davidson 
County in the Legislature, and was elected Speaker of the 
House. From this time he held no political ofilce until 
1870, when he was elected a member of the convention 
called to remodel the existing Constitution of the State. 

Governor Brown, though opposed to the war of 1861-65, 
and an anti-secessionist, yielded to the issue when it was 
made up, and took sides with the South. Since the war he 
has neither held nor sought any public office, but has been 
an active and open advocate of the Union and of peace and 
reconciliation. His professional career as a lawyer began 
in 1835, and he has practiced ever since except when pre- 
vented by political engagements. Few men in the profes- 
sion have attained a better standing at the bar, although it 
is undoubtedly true that public duties have somewhat di- 
vided his attention and detracted from the full exercise of 
his powers and abilities in the strict line of his profession. 
Still, he is one of the ablest lawyers of the county bar, and 
his services are retained in the most important cases both 
in the criminal and civil courts. 

He took an active part in thepoli'.ical campaigns of 1836, 
1840, 184-1, 1856, and 1860, and was an elector on the 
ticket of Judge White in 1836 and of Henry Clay in 
1844. He has always been an ardent friend of common 
schools and of education in all its branches, and few men 
are more fully trusted and highly esteemed in the commu- 
nity in which he resides. We might write much moie in 
his praise, but such is his modesty that we forbear, lest 
we might inflict a wound where we mean simply to do 



Gen. Thomas T. Smiley was born in Nashville, Oct. 8, 
1813. He graduated at the University of Nashville in 
1833 ; studied law with Hon. Ephraim H. Foster, and was 
admitted to the bar in 1836. He has ever since practiced 
in Nashville. Gen. Smiley was fourteen years clerk of 
the Circuit Court, from 1844 to 1859. 


Judge Josephus C. Guild was born in the county of 
Pittsylvania, Va., in 1803 ; came to Sumner County with 
his parents in 1806 ; studied law with Ephraim H. Foster 
at Nashville, and admitted to practice in 1822 ; began piac- 
tice in Sumner County, where he remained till the close 
of the civil war, and acquired a high reputation at the bar 
and as a public speaker and lecturer. He was a member of 
the General Assembly in 1833, 1835, and 1852, and of 
the Senate in 1837 and 1845; was lieutenant-colonel of 
the Second Tennessee Ilegimeut, under Gen. Armstrong, 
in the Florida campaign of 1836; Presidential elector for 
James K. Polk in 1844; elector at-large for Franklin 



Pierce in 1852 ; and was elected chancellor for the seventh 
chancery division of the State in 18G0. The court was 
broken up by the war in 1861. In 1870, Mr. Guild was 
elected judge of the law-court at Nashville for a term of 
eight years, and held the office until the court was abolished 
by the Legislature in 1878. 



Notices of Him in History — Early Life and Education — Associations 
witli Daniel Boone — Robertson and Sevier — Perilous jNIission to the 
Ciicrokees — Indian Diplomacy — Settlement on tlie Cumberland — 
Civil Administration — His Career as a Legislator — His Appoint- 
ment as Indian Agent — Treaties with the Chickasaws and Choctaws 
— Last Hours and Death of Gen. Robertson. 

The life of Gen. Robertson is interwoven with the whole 
history of Middle Tennessee, and with events whioli ex- 
tend far beyond its limits. In this locality, which was 
more especially the theatre of his action, it is desirable to 
bring these events together, and, as it were, to focalize them 
in a personal sketch of the chief actor. 

Haywood, speaking of Robertson's first visit to the Cum- 
berland, says, — 

" He is the same person who will appear hereafter by his 
actions to have merited all the eulogium, esteem, and aifec- 
tion which the most ardent of his countrymen have ever 
bestowed upon him. Like almost all those in America who 
have attained eminent celebrity, he had not a noble lineage 
to boast of, nor the escutcheoned armorials of a splendid 
ancestry. But he had what was far more valuable, — a 
sound mind, healthy constitution, a robust frame, a love of 
virtue, an intrepid soul, and an emulous desire for honest 

Mrs. Dr. Blackie, of Nashville, who is a great-grand- 
daughter of Gen. Robertson, under date of Feb. 28, 1880, 
relates the following interview with the historian Bancroft 
respecting Gen. Robertson ; 

" I met him more than twenty-five years ago at a dinner- 
party in New York. Hearing that I was from Tennessee, 
he soon began to speak of Gen. Robertson, saying he was 
his 'lavorite hero of those times.' He told me how he had 
become possessed of some of his letters, and of some au- 
thentic accounts of him, which had won his admiration 
and respect. I was proud to tell him that he was my great- 
grandfather. I was much gratified afterwards to see how 
honorably he was woven into his great history." The pas- 
sage in Bancroft referred to by Mrs. Blackie is vol. xi. chap. 
xlvi. History of the United States; November, a.d. 1770. 

" This year James Robertson, from the home of the 
Regulators in North Carolina, a poor and unlettered for- 
ester of humble birth, but of inborn nobleness of soul, cul- 
tivated maize on the Watauga. The frame of the heroic 
hunter was robust, his constitution hardy, he trod the soil 
as if he was the rightful lord. Intrepid, loving virtue for 
its own sake, and emulous of honorable fame, he had self- 
possession, quickness of discernment, and a sound judg- 

ment. Wherever he was thrown, on whatever he was 
engaged, he knew how to use all the means within his 
reach, whether small or great, to their proper end, seein" 
at a glance their latent capacities, and devising the simplest 
and surest way to bring them forth ; and so he became the 
greatest benefactor of the early settlers of Tennessee, con- 
firming to them peace, securing their independence, and 
leaving a name blessed by the esteem and love and praise 
of a commonwealth." 

James Robertson was born in Brunswick Co., Va., on 
the 28th of June, 1742, and when he was quite young his 
parents removed with liim to Wake Co., N. C. Here he 
was reared to manhood and married Miss- Charlotte Reeves. 
The influences upon him in early life were such as to lay 
the foundation of a good moral character, develop personal 
energy and independence, and imbue liis mind with those 
principles of liberty of which he was in after-years so 
earnest and faithful an exponent. Wake County, at the 
time of his residence there, was the centre of tlio most 
intelligent and refined society in the colony, — the future 
capital of the State being in this county, — and it is but 
reasonable to believe that such associations had a powerful 
influence in moulding the character of the subject of our 
notice, and that he went out into the world not unac- 
quainted with the usages of good society, and with at least 
the rudiments of an education. Rlrs. Elizabeth Cheatham, 
his granddaughter, now living with her son, Felix R. 
Cheatham, Esq., in North Nashville, writes under date of 
Feb. 28, 1880 : " He had as good an education as most 
gentlemen of his day, and was not indebted to his wife for 
his knowledge of letters, as BIr. Putnam says. I know 
that he received his education in his youth ; and I have a 
letter from uncle Felix Robertson denying this statement 
of Mr. Putnam's, and saying that he was astonished that 
he had made such a mistake. I do not suppose he was a 
rich man in Carolina, but he certainly brought a good many 
slaves and fine stock and cattle with him to this settle- 

Mrs. Cheatham also, in the same letter, speaks of the 
personal appearance of her grandfather, thus: 

" Gen. Robertson was about five feet nine inches in 
height, heavy built, but not too fat. His head inclined 
slightly forward, so that his light-blue eyes were usually 
shaded by his heavy eyebrows. His hair was very dark, 
like a mole in color, and his complexion, though naturally 
very fair, was darkened and reddened by exposure. I re- 
member him as being usually quiet and thoughtful, and 
full of the cares of business. We all loved and venerated 

This was when Robertson was quite advanced in years. 
He was twenty-eight years old when he left North Carolina 
and crossed the mountains. In his hunting excursions on 
the Watauga he was an associate of Daniel Boone, and 
they were probably together on the Holston in 1770. 
Robertson returned, and is believed to have been engaged 
with the Regulators in the battle of Alamance, but there 
is no positive proof of it. It was soon after the battle, in 
1771, that he started with his wife and child to an almost 
unknown country beyond the great range of mountains, 
never to return to claim the right of citizenship in the old 

I'lioto- Ijy Armstrong, NasbviUt^. 



settled portion of the State. Henceforth his life was iden- 
•tified with that heroic class of frontiersmen whose mission 
it has' been to push the advance of civilization into new 

On liis arrival at Watauga he met Boone there again, 
but the latter had no intention of remaining. Boone and 
Robertson, though intimately associated, were very different 
types of men. The former was ever on the move. He 
acted as pilot to now settlements, and continued the pioneer 
of civilization from the Yadkin, in North Carolina, to the 
district of St. Charles, in Missouri, where be ended his 
remarkable and eventful life in 1820, in the eighty-sixth 
year of his age. Robertson, on the other hand, remained 
to organize the settlements, and to extend over them the 
protection of a simple but eiBcient form of government. 
In this lie was successful both at Watauga and on the 
Cumberland, being in both places the master-spirit and the 
principal man in authority, the organizing force and the 
chief executive head. Nor do we know of a single in- 
stance in the forty years of his life where that authority 
was ever abused. His loyalty to the people — his sacrifice 
of personal ambition to the public welfare — was one of the 
most remarkable traits of his character ; and it places him 
high above many of the rulers of mankind who have filled 
the world with their fame. 

The tyranny which drove him and his associates beyond 
the mountains is but another illustration of how new settle- 
ments and States have been formed. Out of tyranny into 
liberty has ever been the progress of man. The tyranny of 
rulers has been the most fruitful cause of the colonization 
of new countries. People fleeing from oppression have 
planted the seeds of states and republics. So was it in 
this case : the refugees from North Carolina laid the foun- 
dation of the commonwealth of Tennessee. Was there 
not a providence in it? Did not the pioneers "build wiser 
than they knew" ? Were they not sent to open this beau- 
tiful country, which was destined to send down its blessings 
of civilization to unborn generations ? 

Robertson frequently alluded to the tyranny of British 
officials in the old State. " This was the best thing," he 
remarked, " ever done by the British government. Never 
were threats so harmless, and yet so powerful : they were 
laughed to scorn. No man feared them out here, whatever 
they might have done in old Orange and in Wake." 
Again he said, " These acts made a new set of Regulators, 
patriots and soldiers out in the mountains ; and they 
were thus preparing to prove themselves such at King's 
Mountain, and wherever else God, in his providence, or 
their country, in her need, should call them." 

The part taken by Robertson and Sevier in the battle 
with the Indians at the Kanawha deserves to be mentioned. 
This was in the year 1774. The little settlement west of the 
mountains was in its infancy; yet when the warlike Shaw- 
nees and their confederates threafened the destruction of the 
settlements in Western Virginia, they raised and equipped a 
company, which they placed under their own ofiioers, and 
marched to the scene of action. James Robertson and 
Valentine Sevier held commissions in Shelby's company. 
On the morning of the 10th of October these men were 
beyond the encampment looking after deer, and came sud- 

denly upon the Indians, who had advanced within half a 
mile of Gen. Lewis' camp. They were approaching in 
very regular order, and by a line extending from the banks 
of the Ohio back to the hills, and across the point towards the 
Kanawha, evidently intending to confine the Americans to 
their position on the point between the two rivers. Robert- 
son and Sevier were within ten steps of the advancing foe : 
they fired at the front column. It was yet too dark in the 
twilight of the morning to take sight or deliberate aim, but 
the fire was so unexpected that the Indians came to a 
general halt, thus affording Robertson and Sevier time to 
run into the camp, give the alarm, and arouse every man to 
arras. Instantly Col. Charles Lewis was ordered to advance 
with one hundred and fifty men towards the hills, and near 
the Kanawha River. The little force under Col. William 
Fleming was directed to the right, up the banks of the 
Ohio. These forces had scarcely passed the line of sentinels 
when they were met by tlie enemy, and a hot and deadly 
conflict commenced. In a short time the entire force on 
each side was fiercely engaged, and the battle continued- 
during most of the day. Many feats of daring and indi- 
vidual contests took place under and along the banks of the 
rivers, and the dead Americans and Indians were scattered 
from the waters of one river to those of the other. Before 
the close of the day the savages liad retreated, the firing 
ceased, and the dead and wounded were gathered and prop- 
erly attended to. 

It has been ever since admitted on all hands that this 
victory was attributable to Robinson and Sevier, who dis- 
covered the plan of the Indians and gave timely warning, 
without which the whole camp must have been surprised 
and either cut to pieces or driven into the river. 

As an Indian diplomatist Gen. Robertson had no supe- 
riors and very few equals. The Indians, as a general rule, 
had confidence in him and respected his judgment. He 
had not been long a member of the settlement at Watauga 
before his excellent services in this direction wore called 
into requisition. In 1772, at the time the Watauga lease 
was negotiated with the Cherokees, some hunters from the 
Wolf Hills in Virginia shot ain Indian while they were en- 
gaged in friendly contests of foot-races and other athletic 
sports. The Indians were highly excited, and contemplated 
revenge. The chief citizens at this critical moment selected 
Robertson to go upon the perilous mission to the Indian 
towns to seek to appease their anger. It was certainly put- 
ting his life in jeopardy ; nevertheless, such was his desire 
to protect and benefit his neighbors that he undertook the 
embassy, taking with him, as was customary, a few pres- 
ents. He penetrated to the Cherokee towns, called the 
chiefs and head-men together, and succeeded in convincing 
them that the murder, which he and his people universally 
condemned, had been committed by irresponsible renegades 
outside of their community ; that should the assassin fall 
into their hands he would be dealt with according to his de- 
serts ; and that the Watauga settlers were anxious to preserve 
peace and intercourse with their nation. He remained 
several days with the chiefs, who, from his courage, ad- 
dress, and friendly manner, conceived a very high regard 
for him. 

The successful manner in which he executed this diffi- 



cult and dangerous mission elevated him in the regard of 
his townsmen. From this time he was granted the post of 
honor. The cares and responsibilities of a leader in civil 
and military affairs now devolved upon him, and to the 
close of his life he found them both weighty and many. 

After this Gen. Robertson held more negotiations with 
the Indians than any other man of his times. Those mas- 
terly feats of diplomacy by which, later in life, he secured 
treaties for the relinquishment of their lands from the 
Chickasaws, Choctaws, and other tribes will be considered 
in their chronological place farther on. 

But Gen. Robertson could not only make treaties with 
the Indians ; he could fight them when occasion required, 
and when diplomacy failed to keep them in their proper 
place. We shall not here give an account of his various 
expeditions, campaigns, and engagements in Indian war- 
fare ; for these the reader is referred to the military history 
of the pioneer period in another part of this work. While 
at Watauga he held the rank of captain ; soon after his 
•settlement on the Cumberland the people elected him col- 
onel, and upon the organization of the Territorial govern- 
ment he was commissioned a general by President 
ingtou. This was at a time when the title meant service 
as well as honor. 

Gen. Robertson was one of the committee who drew up 
the memorial to the General Assembly of North Carolina, 
asking for the " annexation" of Watauga to that colony. 
In this famous document the name Washington is for the 
first time in America applied to any portion or district of 
territory. His residence at Watauga was on the north 
side of the river, at the upper end of the island. The 
fort or block-house of which he was appointed commandant 
stood upon a knoll on the bottom-land, a mile north of the 
mouth of Gap Creek. It is identified by a large locust- 
tree and a few graves on the right of the highway leading 
to Elizabethtown. 

During the winter of 177G-77, Gen. Robertson was in 
Wake Co., N. C, for the purpose of settling his private 
affairs, and to receive from Col. Michael Rogers, guardian 
of his brother Mark, the legacies and personal estates due 
him under the will of his father. , 

On the 10th of July, 1777, Robertson, co-operating with 
the force of Col. Christian, which had been sent by Vir- 
ginia to invade the very heart of the Cherokee Nation, re- 
pulsed a considerable band of Indians who attacked the 

Dui'iug this j'ear he was appointed temporary agent of 
North Carolina, and instructed to repair to Chota (the 
beloved town) in company with the warriors returning from 
the treaty, there to reside until otherwise ordered by the 
Governor. He resided there some time, the accredited 
minister of North Carolina at the court of the Cherokee 
Nation, rendered himself popular among the chiefs of the 
ancient order of red men, and accomplished some valuable 
services for his fellow-citizens. We have his own words 
for it that about this time he was a subject of more than 
ordinary consideration on the part of his native State. He 
says, " Without inquiring how, I was restored to citizen- 
ship and invested with office in my native State : we lived 
and fought as neighbors for each other and our united 

country. Whether we were Virginians or Carolinians we 
asked and cared not ; we were all for the General Congress 
and for Washington." Mrs. Robertson remembered to 
have once asked the question, " I wonder if they will make 
Washington a king?" and the answer was, "If they do, 
he will be the king of our own choice. We will change the 
man, but not the name. He will still be King George by 
the will of the people and the grace of God." 

On the 16th of October, 1777, Governor Caswell ad- 
dressed a letter to Robertson, as superintendent of Indian 
affiiirs, in which he acknowledged the receipt of a letter 
from the latter, covering a talk from old Savanuoa, one of 
the Cherokee chiefs, with whom Robertson was on most 
friendly terms. The Governor inclosed a talk in return 
for the old chief, to be delivered to him and the nation at 
Chota, the Beloved Town. Robertson was informed in this 
letter that it was the wish of the General Assembly that 
he should reniain as Indian agent in the nation, which 
wish the Governor heartily seconded and urged. But he 
had business to attend to in the settlement and in the affairs 
of its government which would not admit of his staying 
permanently among the Indians. He had stayed long 
enough, however, to do much good, the fruit of which was 
seen in after-years upon the Cumberland. 

CoL Henderson, no doubt, had much influence with 
Robertson in inducing him to remove to Middle Tennessee. 
He was just such a man as the colonel wanted to head an 
important settlement, which he was desirous of making in 
the heart of the tract which he had recently obtained of 
the Indians. The treaty had been held at Watauga ; 
Robertson was present, and took part in it ; the great plans 
of Henderson, with reference to both Kentucky and Ten- 
nessee, were freely communicated to him ; he led the settlers 
to the Cumberland ; in the organization of the government 
over them, and in the land-oflioe opened at Nashborough, 
he was associated with Henderson, till the latter, upon the 
proclamation against his treaty by both the Governors of 
Virginia and North Carolina, left the Cumberland, and re- 
moved to the tract granted him near the Ohio River, now 
Henderson Co., Ky. Henderson's name was the first on 
the compact or association in recognition of his position as 
principal proprietor of the lands. After his removal and 
the liiilure of the treaty, Robertson was left alone, as it 
were, to father the whole settlement, and that, too, amidst 
a most complicated and uncertain state of affairs. It was 
indeed as difficult and trying a situation as a man was ever 
placed in. Put almost in the attitude of land-stealers by 
the proclamations of Virginia and North Carolina, declaring 
the treaty illegal, although the purchase had been made in 
good faith and the consideration honestly paid ; the Indians 
disaffected and hostile ; abandoned by a large portion of the 
settlers, and left to defend themselves in a few forts as best 
they could, — the few brave stationers, who looked to Robert- 
son as their leader, resolved not to abandon their homes let 
what might come. Their situation at this critical period is 
thus graphically described by a historian : 

" The three first years of the stationers on the Cumber- 
land were years of privation, losses, and gloom. Remote 
and separate improvements had to be abandoned. The 
people were driven in, and were under the necessity of con- 



gregating at the Bluff, or Frenoli Lick Station, and at 
Eaton's. Some continued at Freeland's. At Manslcei's 
tliey lingered to the close of this year. 

" Some began to regret that they had not gone with their 
friends who had parted their company at the mouth of the 
Tennessee ; others wished the boats had not been broken 
up to make but indifi'orent cabins among the cedars. 
' Shall we flee the country ?' was the question. ' Better,' 
said some, ' to leave while wo may than remain and die of 
hunger, or be massacred by savages.' 'No,' said a. few 
resolute men, — ■ no !' And there were some brave-hearted 
women who said 'No. This is the place for which we set 
out, and here we will remain.' So said Mrs. Cartwriirht 
Mrs. Neely, Mrs. Robertson, IMrs. Donelson, Caft'ery, Pur- 
nell, Jennings, Blackemore, and the wives of the Bledsoes, 
who came by the long land-route, — women whose names 
deserve to be forever memorable. Nearly every one of 
these held the same religious sentiments, and often com- 
forted themselves and others by their ' trust in Provi- 
dence.' " 

Ilobertson was one of those who never thought of aban- 
doning his post. In the winter of 17S1, when their stock 
of ammunition was nearly exhausted, and the question was, 
in view of the danger to which all felt imminently exposed 
from lurking savages, '' Who will go to the settlement and 
obtain a new supply for us?" Robertson, with one of his 
sons, some good woodsmen, and one of the Bledsoes, went 
upon the mission. Robertson returned, as he had at first 
determined, after visiting Harrod's, Boone's, and Braint's 
Stations, in Kentucky. The Bledsoe party continued to 
Watauga, and came back with some accession of numbers, 
— wives and children. 

In his policy with the Indians Gen. Robertson deter- 
mined at first to use all conciliatory measures, so far as they 
would serve to promise success, in withdrawing the Indians 
from British alliance and gaining them over to the Ameri 
can cause. In this he was opposed by a strong desire on 
the part of some of the stationers to take summary ven- 
geance for the outrages the Indians had committed. There 
had been forty unprovoked murders, — "brothers' blood 
crying from the ground." "What could atone for these? 
Would it be politic, even if it were possible, to enter into 
covenants of pjaco, and these deaths unavenged ? Robert- 
son sought peace, and the fact that Ire did it shows that his 
mind rose above mere considerations of revenge to the great 
question of public weifare. In the spirit of the true states- 
man he inquired. What policy is for the best good of the 
people? To such a policy he was always ready to sacrifice 
every gratification of a mere personal nature which, in his 
judgment, stood in the way of the general welfire of the 
society which seemed the special object of his care and so- 
licitude. Instances of this spirit are innumerable in his life. 
With regard to the Indians, he found that they could not be 
easily conciliated or won to the interests of the settlers, when 
Spanish, French, and Eugli-sh emissaries, and even those of 
the Northern tribes of their own race, were constantly ex- 
citing them to hostility. Some cavilers asked, " What does 
the colonel think now of his pacific measures ?" " Kill 
them, yes, kill them !" said the colonel, "making a differ- 
ence: spare the innocent." " Yes," said George Frcelaud, 

",{/' there are any innocent ones hunting around here, notify 
them by powder and shot that they arc too far from homo, 
— so far that a good rifle-shot will help them to a diort- 

When the peace policy had been sufficiently tried, and it 
was found necessary to resort to severer measures, no man 
fought the Indians with greater thoroughness and vigor than 
Gen. Robertson. Still, the wisdom of his pacific measures 
was apparent. He convinced the Indians that he was their 
friend no less tlian that of the white man, so long as they 
were disposed to keep peace with the settlements. It is 
well known I hat the Indians always had confidence in him, 
and that whenever fighting was suspended no man could 
approach them so easily or exert such an influence in their 
diplomatic councils. He never had provoked their implac- 
able vengeance by wantonly slaying any of their kindred. 
This policy repeatedly kept the savages at bay, and saved 
the lives and property of the settlers. 

In his Indian wars and travels through tlie country his 
life was full of hair-breadth escapes. In January, 1781, ho 
went to the stations in Kentucky to learn the news respect- 
ing the progress of the American cause, to concert measures 
with the stationers there for the defense of the settlements, 
and to see what aid Gen. Clarke could render in that direc- 
tion. He did not fail to obtain some powder and lead, with 
which he returned to the Cumberland. His escape from 
the savages as he came through the open prairies or barrens 
of Kentucky, and through the cane-brakes of Tennessee, 
passing across the Indian trails, and by their half extin- 
guished camp-fires in several instances, was regarded by 
himself and others as remarkable. He crossed the river at 
the Bluff on the 15th of January. Leaving his paek-horso 
at that station, and learning that his wife and children were 
at Freeland's, he hastened to greet them and to rejoice with 
them that they and he were yet alive. As he approached 
he was welcomed, not only by the family, but by every one, 
as he had been at the Bluff. AVhile he asked and answered 
queslions, he allowed his powder-horn to be handed round, 
as generous lovers of Maccaboy are pleased to see their 
snuff-boxes serve the coiupany. He had a ?<iVi bullets to 
spare in his shot-pouch, and the destitute helped themselves 
economically. The main'stock of powder and lead was at 
the other station. 

In 1781, Gen. Robertson made a treaty with the Chick- 

Troubles thickened in 1782. During this year a propo- 
sition was made to abandon the settlements and seek some 
more secure place. Robertson, as reported by Judge Hay- 
wood, " pertinaciously resisted the proposition." " It is im- 
possible," said he, "to get to Kentucky; the Indians are in 
force upon all the roads and passages which lead tliither. 
For the same reason it is impossible to remove to the setlle- 
ments upon the Holston. No other means of escape remain 
but that of going down the river in boats, and making- 
good our retreat to the Illinois, where we might find a few 
of our friends, or going down to the French and Spaniards 
on the lower Mississippi. To this plan insuperable obstacles 
are opposed. With such boats as we have a few may get 
away, risking the dangers of the navigation and of being 
shot by the savages on the blufi's and all along the shores. 



But liow can we obtain wood with which to make the boats 
that afe needed ? It cannot be procured. The Indians are 
every day in the skirts of the woods all along the bluff; we 
look for them under every shrub, and privet, and cedar, and 
behind every tree; they are ready to inflict death upon 
whoever shall attempt to fell a tree for a canoe or to saw it 
for lumber." 

These difficulties were all stated by Col. Robertson, says 
Haywood, and there was no exaggeration ; everybody knew 
the facts to be as he had stated. He did not speak with 
indifference or contempt of the sufferings they had already 
endured, or of the dangers which then surrounded them. 
He did not deny or doubt that the probabilities were that 
the Indians would attempt to drive them away or utterly 
destroy them. " There is danger attendant on the attempt 
to stay, as there is in the effort to go ; and in the attempt to 
do either we may be destroyed. Every one must decide for 
himself; do as you please. You all know that my mind is 
made up. I have never thought of leaving. I am deter- 
mined not to leave. There are others who have never enter- 
tained the idea of departing. We know each other. We 
hope there are others who, though they may have talked of 
going, may yet conclude to stay." 

In this grave conference Robertson predicted the success- 
ful termination of the struggle for independence, and pic- 
tured to his almost disheartened associates the better day 
which would then dawn upon the settlement : 

" We have reason to believe also that the Revolutionary 
war will not last much longer, and that it will terminate in 
favor of our liberty and independence. Then we may rely 
upon large accessions to our population. Officers and sol- 
diers will come and select and settle their bounty-lands." 
In the course of his remarks he added : " We have to fight 
it out here or fight our way out from here." Rains caught 
up the sententious remark, and ho and others continued to 
repeat it, and they adopted the first part of it as their 
motto and resolution — " Fight it out here." 

Robertson's connection with the government of the no- 
tables has been elsewhere enlarged upon. He was not only 
its principal founder, but was president of the committee 
or board of judges during its entire existence. He was 
one of the justices of the County Court upon the organiza- 
tion of Davidson County, in 1783. As these magistrates 
were appointed " during good behavior," it is presumable 
that he held the office as long as he lived. 

In his correspondence and intercourse with the Spanish 
authorities, Gen. Robertson was ever a true friend to 
America and to the Western settlements. By his wise and 
conciliatory, counsels he removed many difficulties out of 
the way of commerce on the Mississippi, and made it pos- 
sible that settlers on the Cumberland and other Western 
waters could trade in safety to New Orleans and other points 
within the Spanish dominion. He well understood how im- 
portant was the Mississippi River and its unobstructed navi- 
gation to the Western people. He predicted the day as near 
at hand when the settlers west of the mountains must have 
the use of that river in conveying their produce to market ; 
he well knew the import-jnce of quiet to the settlers, and 
that if they could remain undisturbed but a few years longer, 
they would be in sufficient strength to defy both the In- 

dians and the Spaniards. And knowing the intimacy be- 
tween these parties he could not doubt as to the best policy 
of the settlers. It was to attend to their own affairs, have 
no quarrels with their neighbors, encourage immigration, 
and build up the settlements as securely and rapidly as pos- 
sible. That his policy was sound and statesmanlike must 
be admitted. On the 20th of April, 1783, he received a 
letter from Don Estepan Blero, the Spanish Governor, 
thanking him for his friendly communication and for the 
assurances of friendship it contained, promising to write to 
McGillivray, the Creek chief, and to the Spanish comman- 
dant above the Walnut Hills to use their exertions with 
the Creeks and Cherokees to restrain them from any inter- 
ference with the American settlements. This letter shows 
how earnestly he labored to keep the Indians from disturb- 
ing the settlements, and knowing the influence the Span- 
iards had over them, he sought to effect for them peace 
through that channel. 

In 1785 ho was delegated by the citizens to write a letter 
to Mr. Francis Cruzat, of St. Louis, concerning the " bri- 
gands," Colbert and his gang, who had been robbing barges 
passing up and down the Mississippi. To this letter he 
received a very friendly reply, dated Nov. 4, 1785. 

Upon the orr,anization of Davidson County, in 1783, 
Gen. Robertson was its first representative to the Assembly 
of North Carolina. He conlinued by successive elections 
to represent it till the cession of Tennessee to Congress, 
and its organization as the " Territory of the United States 
southwest of the river Ohio," on the 25th of May, 1790. 
He was then commissioned by Washington major-general 
of Jlero District. His old friend, John Sevier, was com- 
missioned major-general of Washington District, these being 
the two great divisions of the Territory. William Blount 
was appointed Territorial Governor ; John BIcNairy and 
David Campbell, Judges; Daniel Smith, Territorial Secre- 
tary ; and Andrew Jackson, District Attorney for Mcro 
District. The first Territorial representative in Congress 
was James White. Andrew Jackson was then a young 
lawyer at the Davidson County bar. 

The career of Gen. Robertson as a legislator in the North 
Carolina Assembly presents an interesting phase of his life. 
He was zealous in promoting the best interests of the set- 
tlements on the Cumberland, and, considering the disposi- 
tion of North Carolina to leave these struggling settlements 
to take care of themselves, succeeded in getting a large 
number of beneficial acts passed, many of which laid the 
foundation of justice and education in Bliddle Tennessee. 
He procured an act securing free lands to those who had 
remained and defended them during the early Indian 
troubles, and to the heirs of those who had perished in the 
struggle. In the list of brave defenders of their country 
named in the act, Robertson places his name last. The list 
contains the names of seventy persons living entitled to free 
lands, and of sixty-four who had been killed by the Indians 
and left heirs. 

He procured a land-office to be established at Nashville 
in 1784. The business of entering and surveying land at 
once presented a lively aspect. Could we present a picture 
of that time, we are sure it would be interesting. The 
frontier land-office, surroundM by eager land-hunters and 



immigrants, seeking to enter tlieir cliiims ; the surveyors 
running and blazing their Hues through the woods and tlie 
cane-brake; the sound of the woodsman's axe in many 
parts of the forest, or tlie crashing and jarring sounds of 
the falling trees ; the now rail-fences iu many places inclos- 
ing stumpy and blackened patches of ground, where, per- 
chance, remnants of charred logs lay scattered among the 
growing corn, or burning brush-heaps sent up tlioir flame 
and crackling sound, — all gave evidenno of how the wilder- 
ness was being redeemed from the dominion of savage na- 
ture to make homes for coming civilized men and women. 
Already the rude beginnings of those homes appeared in 
many log cabins in the openings of the forest and on the 
banks of the streams. At the little fortified huddle of 
buildings on the bluff known as Nashboroiigh, the life was 
more busy and intense ; the land-office had been opened in 
a building of cedar logs, and many were waiting their turn 
to enter their land. 'J'his was a brighter day for the toil- 
worn stationers, and no doubt all felt grateful to their bene- 
factor, whose care and exertion had brought about such a 
state of things. 

Gen. Robertson, in 178J:, secured also an ofSce for tlie 
inspection of tobacco fur Davidson County. In this year 
he also obtained an act establishing the Davidson Academy, 
which grew eventually into the University of Nashville. 
In its progress, and in the cause of education, ho continued 
to be interested as long as he lived. While at the Assem- 
bly he became acquainted with Rev. Thomas B. Craighead, 
whom he induced to come out and take charge of this first 
institution of learning in Middle Tennessee. The reader 
will find a full account of this institution under the head of 
the Nashville University. 

In May, 1784, Gen. Robertson also procured the passage 
of an act establishing a Superior Court of Law and Equity 
for David.son County. This is the court over which Andi'cw 
Jackson was appointed judge, at a salary of fifty pounds a 
year, North Carolina currency, to be paid, not out of the 
State treasury, but out of such means as Davidson County 
could raise.* 

He also procured an act for the raising and sustaining of 
a military force to escort immigrants to the settlements on 
the Cumberland and for the defense of the settlers. A body 
of three hundred men was authorized to be mustered into 
the service, which should be employed part of the time in 
cutting and clearing a road from the lower end of Clinch 
Mountain to Na.shville. A liberal allowance was made to 
these soldiers and officers in lands west of the Cumberland 
Mountains, but North Carolina would pay nothing for their 
support, except some tax on wild lands. 

It is a fact worth noticing that Gen. Robertson, in accord- 
ance with his own strict temperance principles and practice, 
procured an act against the establishment of distilleries in 
the country. He declared in the debate upon his bill in 
the Assembly that " tlie conve;'sion of grain into .spirituous 
liquors is an unwarranted perversion, unserviceable to white 
men and devilisli to Indians." In tlie report of this meas- 
ure we find the following language with reference to the 
settlement on the Cumberland : "Hitherto there has been 

■« rutnaui, p. 235. 

no drunkenness here, and Col. Robertson hopes there never 
may be any waste of grain by distillation, or waste of estates 
or ruin of souls by the drinking of li((uor." The prohibi- 
tion, however, was but limited. The evil which he sought 
to guard against, alas! established itself, as in other com- 
munities, and wrought its sad and terrible consequences 
upon many, not omitting some of the briglit and shining 
lights of society. 

In the preparation for the organization o( the State, Gen. 
Robertson, though deeply engaged in military affiiirs, was 
urged to attend the meeting of the Assembly, at Knoxville, 
for consultation. Governor Blount wrote him : " The pub- 
lic interests and your own and my interests require that 
you and I and other public men should meet and consult to- 
gether. Come to Knoxville. I trust, sir, this infant coun- 
try, particularly the people of Mero District, of which you 
may be said to be the political father, will long retain a 
grateful sense of your services." These services had been, 
both civil and military, of a pre-eminent character, and 
having, by the Nickajack expedition, put an end to the 
Cherokee war, and resigned his commission on the 15th of 
August, 1795, he was again invited to the civil council to 
deliberate upon the important subject of organizing the 
State of Tennessee. Besides public business at this time 
of most absorbing moment crowding upon him,. that of a 
private nature was most astonishing. . A large amount of 
land-papers had been entrusted to him. He was called 
upon to have warrants located, lands surveyed, to give de- 
scriptions of lands, and answer thousands of questions pro- 
posed to him on subjects relating to the Indians and to 

Upon his appointment as Indian agent, in 1796, he 
found much business requiring his attention. The Indians 
were very desirous to have permission to hunt on the waters 
of the Cumberland and to trade with the whites. Some 
of the Clierokees applied to him for his sanction, which he 
gave. In the fall of that year Chilcoe and Gentleman Tom 
had their camps on the southwest side of Stone's River, 
about one mile from the white settlers, with whom they 
were on very friendly terras. But about a mile above, on 
the north side of the creek, two Indians were shot by white 
men, in violation of the treaty and the permission granted 
by Gen. Robertson. This high-handed outrage Robertson 
was not slow to punish. He seized two white men, sup- 
posing them to have been the perpetrators, but after keep- 
ing them tied a day and a night released them, as he.could 
find no proof of their guilt. Gen. Robertson and Judge 
IMcNairy ofi'ered a reward of seven hundred dollars to any 
one who would find out and take the guilty persons. Gen. 
Winchester also issued military orders for their arrest, but 
it does not appear that they were ever brought to justice. 

In 1798 the United States appointed commissioners to 
hold a treaty with the Cherokee Indians. The treaty was 
consummated ou the 20th of September of that year. The 
State of Tennessee saw the importance of having her in- 
terests well represented at this treaty, and to this end Gov- 
ernor Sevier appointed James Robertson, James Stuart, and 
Lachlau Mcintosh State agents. These men were chosen 
because they were the most competent men in the State 
upon the subject of Indian history and Indian treaties. It 



was felt that infurmation would need to be imparted to the 
coiuniissioucrs on the whole subject of the relation of the 
Cherukees to the soil of Tennessee, and the nature and 
extent of former treaties made with them. This was done 
in what has since been known as the " Great Argument" 
presented to the commissioners by Robertson and his asso- 
ciates, adocument to which we can only refer here. Copies 
of it are in the possession of the Tennessee Historical So- 
ciety, and it is also published in full in Putnam, pp. 550-58. 

This great argument led to the final extinguishment of 
the Indian claim to lands within the State, lleturn J. 
Meigs, who was appointed Indian agent in 1804, adopted 
the views set forth in the argument of Robertson, Stuart, 
and Blclntosh, and entered into correspondence with Rob- 
ertson. A strong combination was thus formed. A me- 
morial embodying these views was sent to Congress, and 
the policy was then initiated of giving the Indians lands 
on the west side of the Missi.^sippi in exchange for those 
tliey hunted upon on the east side. In March, 1805, Gen. 
Robertson was sent on a mission to the Chickasaw and 
Choctaw nations. Clothed with a commission and instruc- 
tions from the war department, this thoughtful public agent 
mounted his horse, accompanied by one servant and a paok- 
hoi'se, quit the comforts of home and the endearments of 
his family, and journeyed through tlie forests and cane- 
brakes, seeking the accomplishment of an object upon 
which his mind had been set for the twenty-five previous 
years, viz. : to secure the relinquishment of the Chickasaw 
claim to Middle Tennessee. He carried with him but few 
presents. In May he met Mr. Silas Dinsmnre, Indian 
agent, who had been directed by the government to asso- 
ciate with liim in this interview for a treaty. They met 
the chiefs and head-men of the Chicka.saws, and after a 
conference of several days, on tlie 23d of July, 1805, ob- 
tained of , them a quit-claim and total relinquishment of 
their title to all lands from the Ohio and mouth of the 
Tennessee, up the main channel of that river to the mouth 
of Duck River ; up Duck River on the left bank to the 
Columbian highway or road from Natchez to Nashville ; 
thence along said road to the dividing-ridge between Duck 
and Buffalo ; eastwardly along said ridge to the great ridge 
between the waters of the Tennessee and Buffalo, near the 
source of the Buffalo ; thenee in a direct line to the great 
Tennessee River, near the " Chickasaw Old Fields,'' or 
eastern part of tlie claim of the Chickasaws on that river; 
thence northwardly to and on the ridge dividing the waters 
of the Tennessee from those of the Cumberland, including 
the waters which run into Elk ; thence along the great 
ridge to the beginning ; reserving only one mile square on 
the Tennessee, at the mouth of Duck River, for Okoye, 
one of the chiefs. The consideration for this grant was 
twenty thousand dollars, mostly paid in goods. 

Col. Meigs and Gen. Daniel Smith concluded a treaty 
with the Creeks for their lands in Tennessee the same year. 
While Robertson was perfecting his treaty with the Chick- 
asaws, he knew that Meigs was employed for like results 
with the Cherokees. They had consulted and corresponded ; 
they harmonized in opinions; they sought the same end by 
the same means and arguments; and they were alike suc- 
cessful. They removed the pretense of right of the In- 

dians to the soil, and left them no excuse for disturbing the 
white settlements. 

Gen. Robertson having accomplished his work among the 
Chickasaws, proceeded to the Choctaw Nation ; and there 
he met with Silas Dinsmore, the United States agent. 
The result of their labors was the conclusion of a treaty 
with the Choctaws for a large cession of country on the 
Homochitto and other streams in the Mississippi Territory. 
This treaty was concluded on the 16th of November, 1805. 

Gen. Robertson returned to Nashville early in August. 
He had traveled, going and coming, probably eight hundred 
miles, besides exploring a considerable extent of country. 
During all of the year 1806 he had taken charge of two 
Chickasaw boys, whom he desired to have educated. He 
made application to the war department, and through the 
secretary and the President, in behalf of the lads. But 
the government, it appears, made no provision for them. 

The services of Gen. Robertson, which had hitherto been 
important to the government, became so in an eminent de- 
gree upon the breaking out of the war with Great Britain. 
Some of tlie Indians who were friendly to' the United States 
had met with others whose minds were unsettled. Good 
advice came from the friendly party. They said, " Gen. 
Robertson by visiting the agencies might exert a happy in- 
fluence. It was a good time to fix the wavering." Robert- 
son, therefore, met a number of the chiefs of the Chei'okees 
and Chickasaws in council at Itala,on the 15th of Septem- 
ber. One of the chiefs said, " My heart is straight, and 
I wish our father, the President, to know it. Our young 
warriors want to fight. Give us guns, and plenty of pow- 
der and lead. We fight your enemies ; we fight much ; 
we fight strong." Gen. Robertson approved of the sugges- 
tion to enlist and equip several companies of Choctaws, 
Chickasaws, and Cherokees, to be in the pay of the United 
States, well supplied with guns and epaulettes, who should 
act as rangers upon the borders to prevent intercourse be- 
tween the northern and southern Indians. On the 20th of 
October he wrote out his views upon this subject. 

During this year there was an earthquake which alarmed 
the Cherokees who had been removed beyond the Missis- 
sippi, and many of them came back. They came in 
haste — as fugitives — with terror depicted in their faces. 
They were not afraid of men ; they had met no warrior, 
white or red ; none of their friends had fallen in battle ; 
they had not suffered by pestilence or famine ; the game 
was much more abundant than they had ever seen it in 
their native country. " But," said they, " we deserted the 
bones of our chiefs, our warriors, our forefathers, and the 
Great Spirit is angry with us. The earth is ready to swal- 
low us up ; it trembles under our footsteps ; it heaves and 
labors to vomit us forth. We cannot remain there. We 
return to sit down, cover our heads, and weep by the graves 
of our ancestors." 

We quote the following letter from Gen. Robertson : 

'• CiiicKAS.WT Agency, Aug. 10, 1812. 

" Capt. John Davis, — I arrived at this place 23d of 
last month. I was sick the day I left your house, and the 
next day ; have been tolerably healthy since. 

" I am well pleased with my berth, and have had the 
greatest council that ever was in this nation. 


" The Cliickasaws profess to be as well pleased with me 
as I am witli them. There cannot be a people more deter- 
mined to observe peace with the- United States' than the 
Chickasaws. If the professions of the Creeks are sincere, 
there will be no danger with the southern Indians. 

" This nation is determined to put their law in force in 
the strictest manner, should horse-tliieves or murderers pass 
through this country. And the Choctaws have ordered all 
out of their nation. 

" You will see in TIte Clarion the letter from the Creeks 
to those people, and the proceedings of our council. 

" The death of the Choctaw, killed by the rangers, will 
cause much trouble, but will not be any great national 
crime. His brother has killed a Mr. Thomas Haley on the 
Mobile road (in retaliation). 

" I have invited the two Indians who lost their com- 
panion and property to accompany mo to iSfashville the 
last of September. 

" James Robertson." 

When Gen. Jackson at the head of his brave Tennes- 
seeans was gaining victories and wreathing laurels around 
his brow, Robertson was accomplishing the great work 
committed to his charge. He urged forward such organ- 
ization of the friendly Indians as were authorized by the 
war department. They maintained a vigilant police and 
made frequent reports to the agency. In a letter from 
Gen. Robertson to Capt. John Davis, dated Chickasaw 
Agency, March 9, 1813, he writes, "The Chickasaws are 
in a high strain for the war. They liave declared war 
against all passing Creeks who attempt to go through their 

The services of Gen. Robertson during his agency in 
the years of the war with England are to be reckoned 
among the most valuable ones rendered by him in a series 
of forty years. In not one of these years did he omit the 
performance of many acts of disinterested patriotism. His 
influence over the Chickasaws was indeed almost sovereign, 
and it was well for them and for the American settlements 
near their border. 

The following extract from a letter written by Colbert, 
the Chickasaw chief, in reply to one of Gen. Robertson's, 
will show in what estimation he was held by the people of 
that nation : 

" My old Feiend and Father, — I am overjoyed 
with the word you send, that you are to be the guide of 
our nation, as you have been the life of this nation, and 
every chief of the Chickasaws, I make no doubt, will feel 
the same as I do. I hope everything will prove satisfactory 
in every council. When you go by my house I will take 
my horse and ride to the king's house and the agency with 


Chin-nubbe was the king of the Chickasaw Nation. He 
is the same person who, with Colbert, Okoye, and others, 
wrote to Gen. Robertson in 1805, that "when they sold 
land it must be by the acre, in the mode adopted by the 
United States." 

Early efforts were made to change the habits of the 
Chickasaws, Cherokees, and Choctaws. Implements of 
husbandry had been furnished them, and an intercourse 

and friendship established which was deemed advantageous 
to the white as well as to the red people ; but these efforts 
at civilization, like nearly all other attempts of the kind 
among American Indians, proved unsuccessful. They were 
destined to pass away before the advance of civilization 
rather than to become assimilated therewith. 

The material comforts at the agency appear not to have 
been of the best. Putnam says, " He wrote to his wife to 
send by Mr. Cohee some feathers and Bedclothes, and very 
fairly and kindly offered her, ' should she come that way, 
the very best chance for rest and sleep which the bed would 
afford, provided always that she should retain a part of the 
same.' And as a dutiful and devoted wife she accepted 
the offer or permission as though it had been a command. 
How strange that this aged couple, seventy-one and sixty- 
three years of age, respectively, should leave their hard- 
earned but now quiet home, their beautiful and comfortable 
residence near Nashville, to go again into the wilderness 
among savages and there patiently, yea, cheerfully, submit 
to all sorts of inconveniences and annoyances !" 

Before he departed the last time to the agency he said, 
" I know I am getting to be an old man ; I cannot delude 
myself with the idea that I am young, or with the hope 
that in this life my days, and being, will turn backwards 
and carry me from age through reversed stages down to 
childhood again. I may not do all the good I design. My 
heart is warm and full, though my limbs are not so very 
supple. As some of you have said, I may not live to return 
and settle down again quietly at home. Older men than I 
have found the post of duty away from their pleasant fire- 
sides, and where duty calls there is home." 

Gen. Robertson had been long subject to violent at- 
tacks of neuralgia. Ho had repeatedly said that his life 
would end in one of these attacks. He knew he could not 
survive many more such as he had recently endured. But 
he was calm and resigned, and " might as well," he said, 
" die there (in the Indian nation) as anywhere, if the will 
of God was so." On Thursday, the 1st day of September, 
1814, he breathed his last at the Chickasaw Agency. His 
wife was by his side. He died contented, resigned ; he 
died at his jjost. 

His remains were interred at the agency, where they 
rested till the year 1825, when they were removed to the 
cemetery at Nashville. A very large concourse of people 
assembled, and an eloquent eulogy was pronounced by 
Judge Haywood. A plain tomb covers the spot where 
rest the remains of this pioneer to the Cumberland, the 
founder of Nashville, and the " Father of Tennessee.'" 
\ By his side rest the remains of his wife. Their tombs 
bear the following simple inscription : 


The FouiNDiiii or Nashville, 

Was born in Virginia, 

28tU June, 1742. 


1st September, 1S14." 

Wife op James Robektson, 
Was born in North Carolina, 

2d January, 1751. 

11th June, ISIS." 



General and Mrs. Robertson had eleven children, seven 
sons and four daughters. Two sons were killed by the In- 
dians ; one daughter died at two years of age. 

His son, Felix Robertson, for many years an honored 
physician at Nashville, was born at the Bluff on the lltli 
of January, 1781, and was the first white child born in the 



Importance of His Early Services in the Settlement — Nativity and 
Relations in Virginia — Kemoval to Kentucky — His Agency in lo- 
cating Lands — Treaty with the Indians — Location of Lands at tho 
Hermitage — Operations on the Tennessee — His Pacific and _Patri- 
olic Character — His Tragic Death. 

The arrival of Col. Donelson with the company -which 
came to the Cumberland by water in 1780 has been re- 
ferred to in our pioneer history, where his journal has been 
given of the most remarkable expedition in the history of 
Western settlements. After settling at Clover Bottom, on 
Stone's River, and planting a crop of corn, he was driven 
away by the extraordinary freshet of that summer, and 
found refuge with his family at Mansker's Station, whence 
in the autumn he removed to Davis' Station, near Ilar- 
rodsburg, Ky. A number of the earliest stationers on the 
Cumberland removed at the same time. AVhile residing 
there during the five succeeding years. Col. Donelson was 
much engaged in locating Virginia la«d-claims for himself 
and many Virginia acquaintances ; and it is stated that he 
entered large tracts of the rich and beautiful lands in the 
vicinity of Lexington. He was a practical surveyor of 
well-established reputation before he removed to this part 
of the country. Such was the estimation in which his in- 
tegrity and capacity were held in Virginia that he had 
been often called to the discharge of important trusts. He 
was at one time engaged in running the boundary-line be- 
tween Virginia and North Carolina, and was present at the 
treaty of Long Island, on the Holston, in April, 1777. 
The information which he there obtained with regard to 
the lands in the Great Bend of the Tennessee operated 
strongly in connection with other inducements and in- 
fluences to his expedition in the " Adventure" at the time 
of the first settlement. 

He was a native of Pittsylvania Co., Va., supposed to 
have been born in 1718. His father and grandfather had 
been engaged in shipping business from London, England. 
It is worthy of notice that several of the distinguished 
pioneers of Tennessee — Robertson, Sevier, Shelby, Bledsoe, 
Henderson, Cartwright, and Donelson — were born and edu- 
cated in the same section of country, and were personally 
acquainted and devoted friends. Prior to the Declaration 
of Independence, Col. Donelson had served as a member in 
the House of Burgesses, and it is believed that he was 
once or twice a member of the Assembly of Virginia sub- 
sequent to the Declaration. Jefl'erson and Henry were his 
personal friends; he held commissions under each of them 
to execute important trusts, such as the survej' of boundary- 

lines, the negotiation of treaties with the Indians, and the 
establishment of the authority of the State over distant 
territory. • In 1772 he was appointed to survey the State 
line west, to designate certain limits for the Indians, and 
to secure a route for emigration to Kentucky. He was 
the principal person among the first voyagers down the 
Tennessee River, the manager of that wonderful achieve- 
ment, and its journalist, his journal being elsewhere in this 
work published in full. He was of a devout turn of mind, 
and furnished repeated evidences of his recognition of a 
guiding Providence in all that concerned his life and in the 
aifairs of the world. 

In the spring of 1780, very soon after his arrival with 
the first settlers. Col. Donelson commenced his search 
through the forests and cane-brakes for land. He passed 
up the west branch of the Cumberland to the mouth of 
Stone's River, thence up that stream to the beautiful body 
of bottom-lands and rich uplands bordering upon it. In a 
number of open spots there was discovered a luxuriant 
growth of white clover, which place became known as the 
" Clover Bottom." Here he selected a beautiful eminence, 
which was about one hundred and fifty yards to the north- 
west of the bridge (built in later years) across Stone's 
River on the Lebanon Pike. He moved there with his 
family and servants and erected some shanties with open 
fronts, or " half-camps" as they were called. In one of 
these his daughter-in-law, the wife of Capt. John Donel- 
son, Jr., gave birth, on the 22d of June, 1780, to a son, 
whom they named Cliesed, the first white child born on the 
Cumberland or in Middle Tennessee. It is singular that 
this Hebrew name (which has the signification of " de- 
stroyei'") should have been chosen to the exclusion of any 
name belonging to the family or relatives. The motives in 
the mind of the parents we cannot conjecture. The child, 
however, did not survive infancy. As has been remarked, 
'• the great destroyer soon marked him as his victim." 

" The settlement was called ' Stone's River,' or ' Donel- 
son's Station,' as may be seen from the records of the pro- 
visional government of the 13th of May, 1780. It was 
entitled to one representative in the assembly of notables 
at the Bluff. 

" The name of Donelson is the fifth on the roll of noble 
pioneers who adopted the anomalous government of May 
1st, with the amendments and additions of May 13th. His 
name precedes that of Gasper Mansker, as Blansker's does 
that of John Caffrey, who came in the ' Adventure' with 
Col. Donelson. It is written ' Jno. Donelson, C Colonel 
Donelson always abbreviated his Christian name, whereas his 
son wrote his in full, — ' John Donelson.' " 

The overflowing of the Clover Bottom by a flood in 
July, 1780, the supposed destruction of his growing corn, 
and the danger of attacks from Indians were the causes 
which induced him to remove his family to Mausker's Sta- 
tion and thence to Kentucky, as we have related. Yet he 
tarried at Mausker's Station till the fall of the year, when 
it was ascertained that his corn, instead of having been 
destroyed by the flood, had sprung up and eared most 
astonishingly, and, strange to say, neither Indians nor wild 
beasts had injured much of it. In the autumn it was 
jrathered, an abundant harvest, and Col. Donelson gcner- 




oiisly divided it witli the people at the BluiT, or Nashville, 
who had lost much of their crops by inundations and 
other causes. An historian remarks, " Indeed, it may be 
said of these pioneers, as of the early Christians, ' They 
had all things common.' A generous hospitality and cheer- 
ful liberality characterized them all. . . . It is not fobulous 
nor an exaggeration to say that if there remained but one 
dried hvffalo-tovffue, or but one knife, they divided that 
tongue or broke that knife, making as equal a division as 
possible for each one's separate necessity." 

Col. Donelson had delayed his departure to Kentucky on 
account of the prospect of obtaining this .supply of corn. 
He now determined to carry into effect his previous pur- 
pose, and made immediate preparations for moving. Having 
packed his horse and given the best couveyanocs to the 
women and children, and the men being furnished with 
such utensils and weapons as were most needed and ser- 
viceable in their hands, the party set out for Davis' Station. 
They arrived there without interruption by the savages, or 
more toil and suffering than they had anticipated. 

The family of Capt. Rains was already there, or had 
arrived near the same time, as also others of the early Cum- 
berland settlers. Col. Henderson and his brother, Capt. 
Hart, and a number of others, had gone in advance of Col. 
Donelson. The destitution of corn and deficiency of powder 
and lead operated strongly upon the minds of many persons 
who departed in the summer and fall of 1780 and winter 
of 1780-81.'' A few removed their families to more secure 
positions, and then returned to stand by their friends in the 
stations at Easton's, the Bluff, and Freeland's. 

In 1783, Cols. Donelsoa and Martin received from the 
Governor of Virginia commissions to treat with the South- 
ern Indians, the Cherokees and Chickasaws. They sent 
runners into the several nations, calling them to send their 
delegates to the French Lick or Nashborough to hold the 
council. While waiting the arrival of the chiefs and head- 
men of the Indians, Col. Donelson visited his first planta- 
tion and examined the choice body of lands at and around 
the Hermitage:. Here he made enti'ies or locations of some 
of the best lands of Tennessee, and commenced the erec- 
tion of his block-house. The site of this new station was 
near a large spring a mile west of the Hermitage, being the 
site of the late residence of his grandson, William Donel- 
son, Esq. 

Objections were made by the settlers on the west side of 
the Cumberland to the treaty being held at Na.shborough ; 
a vote was taken, and the people on the east side, at Easton's 
Station, being in favor of it, the treaty was accordingly 
held at Nashville, in June, 1783. 

After the treaty Col. Donelson returned to Kentucky 
with the avowed intention of moving back to the Cumber- 
land as soon as he had adjusted some matters of importance 
in Kentucky and Virginia. In 1785 he visited Virginia to 
communicate with his fiiends about the many land-claims 
entrusted to his management. In view of his return to the 
Cumberland he had procured the planting of another crop 
of corn on one of his tracts near Stone's River. In the 
latter part of the year 1785 he was engaged as a commis- 
sioner, appointed by the Assembly of Georgia, in company 
with Cols. Harrod, Downs, and Sevier, and Mr. Lindsay, to 

organize a new county, by the name of Houston, in the bend 
of the Tennessee opposite the Mussel Shoals and the Indian 
town of Nickajaok. They opened a land-office there; Col. 
Donelson was appointed surveyor, and the issuing of land- 
warrants was authorized. These commissioners, with eighty 
or ninety men, descended the river to the point where it 
was intersected by the State line. They appointed military 
officers and justices of the peace, and elected Valentine 
Sevier, brother of Col. John Sevier, to represent them in 
the General Assembly of Georgia. The warrants were 
signed by John Donelson and John Sevier, and were dated 
21st December, 1785.'"' The commissioners and their party 
remained there but two or three weeks. The threats of 
violence and the preparation of the Indians to attack these 
land-hunters rendered it advisable for them to abandon the 
scheme for the time being, and return to the Nollaohucky 
land Holston. Princely estates were, however, ultimately 
realized out of the operation. A plat and deed for ten 
thousand acres, located at the mouth of the Blue Water, 
opposite Mussel Shoals, " to John Sevier, one of the Com- 
missioners of the Tennessee Land Company," may be seen 
in the State Historical Society's rooms. About the year 
1827 the Congress of the United States granted to the heirs 
of these commissioners five thousand acres each, to be 
selected from any vacant lands of the government in Ala- 
bama or Mississippi, in lieu of their ten thousand, and in 
full satisfaction for their services as such commissioners, 
surveyors, and explorers. A time was limited within which 
these lands were to be located. All but the Donelson heirs 
made their selections within the specified time ; so that the 
perils and labors of Col. Donelson remained without com- 
pensation, and his long-cherished plan and hope of acqui- 
sition there were frustrated. 

Col. Donelson had owned extensive iron-works in Pitt- 
sylvania Co., Va., which he sold to Col. Calloway. These 
works had been established as a practical result of a deter- 
mination on the part of the colonists before the Revolution 
to place American industries upon a footing more inde- 
pendent of the jealous and restrictive policy of Great 
Britain. An address on this subject had been signed by 
Washington, Jefferson, Hehry, Lee, Randolph, Donelson, 
and others at the time when Donelson was associated with 
these great Virginians in the House of Burgesses. It has 
been lemarked by a discriminating writer that " here was 
another of those links in the golden chain which bound him 
to the patriots of Virginia. Here was infused through the 
great depth of his soul sentiments which gave a right direc- 
tion to all his subsequent life, and made him ever ready to 
' pledge his word of truth and honor that whatever Wash- 
ington and his associates advocated and did was the wisest 
and best under the circumstances.' He never could doubt 
this. He was exceedingly anxious that other'persons should 
entertain the like implicit confidence. And we verily be- 
lieve that the strong fiiith he had and the earnestness with 
which he delivered his sentiments for the Father of our 
Country, and the like precious faith cherished by Gens. 
Sevier, Robertson, Smith, and other leading spirits in Ten- 
nessee, had a most happy and conservative influence over 

« History of Middle Tennessee, p. 034. 



all the population of Tennessee, and that there were men 
of eminent talents actuated by the same spirit who staj-ed 
or hushed the storm of discontent in Kentucky." 

Who knows to what extent this all-controlling spirit of 
reverence and fealty to the fathers of the Revolution 
thwarted the Spanish schemes for the dismemberment of 
the Western colonies from the republic ? 

It is stated in Filson's and in Butler's histories of Ken- 
tucky that " Col. Donelson, in behalf of Virginia, nego- 
tiated a treaty with the Five Nations for the country be- 
tween the Kentucky and the Great Kanawha, the considera- 
tion of which was five hundred pounds sterling." As no 
mention of this is found among the colonial records, or in 
any book of Indian treaties, it was probably one of those 
personal or unauthorized transactions, like Henderson's 
treaty of 1775 and that at Nashville in 1783, which, 
though never recognized as valid by the government, were 
nevertheless entitled to some consideration on account of 
the peril and sacrifice of those who negotiated them and 
the interests of those who had settled upon the lands. 

Col. Donelson's last letter, written -during his trip to Vir- 
ginia, is in the possession of the Tennessee Historical So- 
ciety, and is as follows ; 

"CvMi-nELi, Co., Va., Jtb Sejitcmbcr, 1TS5. 

" De.vr Joiiny, — I have the happiness to inform you 
that I am in health at present, with the most sanguine 
hopes that by the first opportunity I .sliall be made happy 
by hearing of the health, happiness, etc., of yourself and 
our dearest connections. 

" I lately saw Capt. Ewing, who told me that several war- 
rants from the military department were sent out to your 
care to locate on the usual terms ; I think he said to the 
amount of ten thousand acres. 

" I wish amongst those warrants you could spare me one 
small warrant to secure the vacancy against my lands on 
the south side of the Cumberland. 

" I have had some conversation with Stockley Donelson 
concerning our locations with Col. Blount. He says that 
he has reason to trust the warrants for those lands have 
issued, and that we need not fear the consequences thereof. 

" However, I shall start to-morrow morning over to Caro- 
lina in order to be satisfied in that business. I purpose re- 
turning to Piichmond from Carolina in order to see if it is 
in my power to get some goods for our family's use, and to 
return to you and my family as soon as possible. 

" If you should find it convenient to remove to Cumber- 
land befort! my return, if my family can remove at the same 
time, I shall have no objection. 

'•I shall have some debts to settle in Kentucky in my 
way out. ... I hope to be at home next month. . . . 

" I entreat you to take particular care so to provide that 
no waste may be made in my corn at Cumberland. A plen- 
tiful stock of provisions is the main chance. Give every 
■ assurance to your dear mamma that I shall use every en- 
deavor for her happiness, and for every branch of the family. 

" Your mamma's ease and happiness in every comfort of 
life, your and your brothers' and sisters' well-being and hap- 
piness, and more, if I could say more, is the constant peti- 
tion and most ardent desire of your most affectionate father, 

" John Donelson." 

During the interval between this letter and the events 
which are to follow, the families of Col. Donelson and his 
son had returned to the Cumberland, and were again iden- 
tified with the stationers there. The Indian wars were not 
ended ; perilous times continued, and they came once more 
to experience the perils and suffering of which the pioneers 
knew little abatement during the first decade of their set- 
tlement. This territory has been called significantly the 
" great slaughter-pen of the pioneers." 

Col. Donelson had forwarded his last letter by private 
messenger, and was soon after on his way to Kentucky. 
" He pursued the usual route by the Gap, and on to Davis' 
Station. There he learned that his family had removed to 
Mansker's. Delaying only a few days to settle some busi- 
ness, he renewed his journey on horseback to rejoin his 
family. Two young men joined him and proposed to travel 
in company, having in view, as they said, a settlement at 
Nashville. These young men arrived safely, and gave the 
following statement : 

" They had traveled together until in the heat of the day, 
when they stopped to take a drink from a spring. Col. Don- 
elson rode on, saying he was anxious to reach home. He 
had not gone far, and but a few moments, when they heard 
several guns fired. Their impression was that his sons had 
met him and fired a feu dcjuie. 

" After some further delay they resumed their journey, 
and finally overtook him, when they found him dangerously 
wounded and in great agony. He was, however, proceeding 
on his journey. He had been wounded by a ball, which 
passed across the abdomen in such a manner as to cause a 
ghastly wound. They continued in company. In their 
opinion ho had been wounded by Indians, but they said not 
what was Col. Donelson's opinion. 

" They encamped on the bank of Barren River that night, 
and there Col. Donelson expired. In the morning they 
buried his body as best they could ; then, taking his horse, 
saddle, and saddle-bags, they crossed the river; but in cross- 
ing, the saddle-bags were washed off the saddle and floated 
down the river and were lost. 

" Such was their statement. He had many valuable 
papers belonging to himself and friends, and it was supposed 
he had some money. 

" Suspicion rested strongly for some time on these young 
men, but no proof of guilt being found, they were released 
and cleared of the charge. The sons of Col. Donelson, 
taking one of the young men with them, returned to Bar- 
ren River in search of the body and the saddle-bags. The 
body was found in a position to verify their statement, and 
the saddle-bags were recovered, with some papers, but so 
damaged as to be of very small value." 

Such is the mystery in which the end of Col. Donelson 
is shrouded. He was eminently a man of peace, having 
no record in connection with any of the Indian wars of his 
time. He is known to have traveled over vast extents of 
wilderness country from the Tennessee to the James River, 
in times, too, of Indian hostility, without carrying so much 
as a weapon for personal defense. He was a man whose 
policy of colonization was perhaps on a more extended and 
comprehensive scale than that of any of his contemporaries. 

s^< '&t> 




The importance he attached to the fortilication and perma- 
nent occupancy of the Great Bend of the Tennessee River 
by the whites, as the best method of com rolling the Indians 
and preserving the peace of the settlements, was fully recog- 
nized long after his death in the establishment of a fort there 
by the government. Had he lived to carry out his plans, he 
■would undoubtedly have filled a very large and conspicuous 
place in the history of Middle Tennessee. His descendants 
and connections for nearly three-fourths of a century in the 
South and Southwest have been extensive and influential 
both in civil and military affairs. The sons and grandsons 
and great-grandsons of Col. Donelson have preserved the 
name with much credit in our local history. His sons-in- 
law were Col. Thomas Hutchings, Capt. John Caffery, Col. 
Robert Hays, and Gen. Andrew Jackson. 

Col. Donelson had a family of thirteen children, whose 
numerous aud influential descendants are scattered over the 
South and Southwest. Maj. Martin, whose mother was a 
Donelson, and who also married one of that family, has a 
fiimily-tree embracing sis generations from Col. John Don- 
elson. The following has been furnished us by Maj. Mar- 
tin, who vouches for its correctness : 

Children of Col. John Donelson and his wife, Rachel 
Stockly : 

1. Alexander (never married). cA. ■l'^>i 

2. Mary, married Capt. John Ciiff'T, and left a large 
family, of whom are Donelson and Jefferson Caffry, of 

3. Catherine, married Col. Thomas Hutching, and left a 
large family. 

4. Stockly, married Mrs. Elizabeth Martin. Left no 

5. Jane, married Col. Robert Hays, and left a large 
family, of whom are Stockly D. and Samuel J. Hays, Mrs. 
Gen. Butler, of Florida, Mrs. Dr. Butler and Mrs. Chester, 
of Jackson, Tenn. 

6. John, married Mary Purnell, of Snow Hill, Md. 

7. William, married Charity Dickerson, and had a large 
family, of whom are I. D. Donelson, of Mississippi, the 
late A. J. Donelson, of Louisiana, Mrs. Robert A. and 
Robert M. Barton, of Tennessee, and others. 

8. Samuel, married Mary Smith, and had John, A. J., 
and Gen. D. S. Donelson. 

9. Severn, married Elizabeth Rucker, and had A. J., 
Thomas, John, Samuel, and Alexander. 

10. Rachel, married, first, Robards, and second. Gen. 
Andrew Jackson. 

11. Leven Donelson (never married). 

John Donelson, Jr., born April 7, 1755, and Mary Pur- 
nell, married Aug. 26, 1779, had children : 

1. Chesed, born June 17, 1780, died in infancy. 

2. Tabilha, born July 17, 1781, married George Smith. 

3. Alexander, born 11 , 1784, killed at Emuckfaw. 

4. John, born April 23, 1787, married Eliza Butler. 

5. Lemuel, born Sept. 6, 178;i, married Elizabeth 

6. Rachel, born July 10, 1791, married William Eastin. 

7. Mary, born June 13, 1793, married Gen. John Coffee. 

8. William, born May 17, 1795, married Rachel Don- 


9. Elizabeth, born Nov. 21, 179(5, married John C. 

10. Catherine, born July 13, 1799, married J. G. Martin. 

11. Chesed P., born July 8, 1801, died in infancy. 

12. Stockly, born Aug. 31, 1805, married Phila H. 

13. PJmily, born June 1, 1807, married Maj. A. J. 



His Scotch-Irish Ancestors — Birthpl.acc — Experience in the Revo- 
lution — Study of Law — at Nashville as District Attorney 
— Appointment to the Bench of the Superior Court — Difficulty 
with Governor Sevier — Racy Correspondence — Duel with Dickin- 
son — Admonitory Letters from Friends. 

Gen. Jackson's life belongs to our national history, yet, 
in a restricted sense, it is a part, and a very important part, 
of the history of Davidson County. His home was here 
from early manhood ; from this county emanated those mili- 
tary campaigns which were supported with such singukrr 
unanimity by his countrymen, his friends, and his neigh- 
bors, many of whom won with him imperishable glory on 
the battle-fields of the Soutli and at New Orleans ; here the 
light of his military genius first shone, which afterwards 
burst out and spread over the world ; here was the centre 
of that marvelous personal devotion and enthusiasm for his 
character and services which became national, and which 
exalted him into a career of civil trdmiuistration the success 
and glory of which transcended even his brilliant military 
achievements ; here, at Nashville and in Tennessee, he 
founded a new political dynasty, which rose rapidly into 
ascendancy, and for many years controlled the politics of 
the nation ; here, after his great services had been rendered 
to his country, he retired to spend his declining years in 
the beautiful and quiet retreat of the Hermitage, where 
his venerated dust now reposes, with that of his beloved 
wife and adopted kindred, under the guardianship of the 
State, which is honored no less in keeping the sacred de- 
pository than in the name and reputation of a citizen so 

Andrew Jackson was of humble birth, but in his veins 
flowed the blood of a long line of ancestors noted for their 
independence, their personal energy and courage, their rest- 
lessness under political and ecclesiastical restraint, and their 
great sincerity and earnestness in their convictions. " The 
Scotch-Irish," says Parton, ''are a tough, vehement, good- 
hearted race, who have preserved in good measure the 
Scotch virtues of honesty, prudence, and perseverance, but 
exhibit the showing traits of the Irish, subdued and dimin- 
ished, — a plain, simple, and pure people, formed to grapple 
with practical affairs, in dealing with which they often dis- 
play an impetuosity which is Irish, and a persistence which 
is Scotch. They have not the taste or gift for art, of which 
no Irishman of pure blood seems to be quite destitute. . . . 
Their genius shines in other pursuits. They possess a 
sturdiness of understanding, and sometimes a certain quick 
and piercing intelligence, which throws a Drummond glare 



upon a limited space, thougli it leaves the general scone in 

" One trait in the character of these people demands the 
particular attention of the reader. It is their nature to 
contend for what they think is right with peculiar earnest- 
ness. Some of them, too, have a knack of extracting from 
every affair in which they may engage, and from every 
relation in life which they form, the largest amount of con- 
tention which it can be made to yield. Hot water would 
seem to be the natural element of some of them, for they 
are always in it. It appears to be more difficult for a 
North-of-Irelander than for other men to allow an honest 
difference of opinion in an opponent, so that he is apt to 
regard the terms oj)ponent and enemy as synonymous. 
Hence in the political and sectarian contests of the present 
day he occasionally exhibits a narrowness, if not a ferocity 
of spirit, such as his forefathers manifested in the old wars 
of the clans and the borders, or in the later strifes between 
Catholic and Protestant. But these very people, apart 
from their strifes, are singularly tender in their feelings, 
liberal in their gifts, generous in their hospitality, and easy 
to be entreated. On great questions, too, which lift the 
mind above sectarian trivialities, they will, as a people, be 
invariably found on the anti-diabolic side ; equally strenu- 
ous lor liberty and for law against ' mobs and monarchs, 
lords and levelers,' as one of their stump orators expressed 
it. The name which Bulwer bestows upon one of his 
characters, Sttck-to-iiglds, describes every genuine son of 
Ulster. . . . 

" It is to be observed also of these remarkable people 
that the two races whose good and less good qualities they 
share are blended in different proportions in every indi- 
vidual. Some are Scotch-Irish and others are Irish-Scotch. 
Some come to their Scotch traits only after sowing a plenti- 
ful crop of the most Irish wild-oats. Some are canny 
Scots in repose and wildly Irish in contention. Some, at 
times of keen excitement, exhibit in a surprising manner 
an Irish dash and daring, controlled by Scottish wariness. 
And some will imbibe an opinion or a prejudice with Irish 
readiness, and then cling to it with Scotch tenacity. 

" It could not but be that a race so bold and enterprising 
should have contributed its proportion to the tide of emi- 
gration which has peopled America. Transferred to the 
wider sphere afforded on this continent, the North-of-Ire- 
landers have, upon the whole, done great honor to their 
blood and instincts, their love of liberty and regard for the 
right. Such of them as have attained distinction here 
have done so not so much by originality of thought or 
project as by originality of career. There is an abounding 
energy in these men which enables them to do ordinary 
things in an extraordinary and memorable manner, exhibit- 
ing a rare union of enterprise, perseverance, and prudence. 
In most of them there is a touch of eccentricity. 

" Among the men of North-of-Irelimd stock whose names 
are familiar to the people of the United States, the following 
may serve to illustrate some of the foregoing remarks : 
John Stark, Robert Fulton, John C. Calhoun, Sam Hous- 
ton, David Crockett, Hugh L. White, James K. Polk, 
Patrick Bronte, Horace Greeley, Robert Bonner, A. T. 
Stewart, Andrew Jackson." 

The ancestors of Gen. Jackson resided at Carrickfergus 
(Crag of Fergus), on the northern coast of Ireland, nine 
miles from Belfiist. His grandfather, Hugh Jackson, was 
a linen-draper, residing in Carrickfergus, and suffered in 
the siege of that town in 1660. He had four .sons, all of 
whom were settled in the vicinity as farmers. The youngest 
of these was Andrew, the father of Gen. Jackson. Whether 
he was a member of the " Patriot Club" at Carrickfergus 
or not we do not know, but such an organization existed 
there as early as 1756, and shows the spirit of the people 
among whom he resided. In the " plan of association" of 
this club, it was declared that they were " ready to defend 
the king and constitution, and to oppose all measures tend- 
ing to infringe the sacred rights of the people." Andrew 
Jackson the elder married Elizabeth Hutchinson, a poor 
man's daughter ; she was a sister of Blrs. George McCamie 
and of Mrs. James Crawford, with whom Mrs. Jackson lived 
with her children after the death of her husband in North 
Carolina. The Crawfords — James, Robert, and Joseph — 
came with them to America in 1765. The father of Gen. 
Jackson at that time had two sons, — Hugh and Robert. 
They landed at Charleston, whence Andrew Jackson, with 
his wife and sons, went immediately to a new place on 
Twelve-Mile Creek in Mecklenburg (since Union) Co.,. 
N. C, where he commenced clearing land and erected a log 
house. In less than two years he sickened and died, and 
his widow, with her two sons, went to live with her brother- 
in-law, George McCamie, not far distant. It was in this 
house that Andrew Jackson was born on the 15th of March, 
1767. It is described as a small log house, less than a 
quarter of a mile from the South Carolina boundary. They 
did not remain long here, but went to live with the other 
brother-in-law, James Crawford, in the Lancaster District 
in South Carolina. This was probably what made Gen. 
Jackson suppose that he was born in South Carolina, as he 
evidently did when, in issuing his proclamation to the nulli- 
fiers, he addressed them as " Fellow-citizens of my mitiue 
State !" 

In Partou's " Life of Jackson" are some interesting remi- 
niscences of his boyhood, which we are obliged to pass 
over with the briefest notice. He was a rollicking, fun- 
loving, brave, resolute, chivalrous, and somewhat belligerent 
boy, extremely fond of athletic sports, especially wrestling, 
although quite slender and posses.sed of more energy than 
physical strength. One of his schoolmates used to say, " I 
could throw him three times out of four, but he would 
never stay throwed. He was dead game even then, and 
never would give up." 

He was sent first to an " old field-school," one of those 
institutions peculiar to the country, in which school was 
kept by an itinerant schoolmaster in a log house upon a 
worn-out plantation which had grown up with pine-trees. 
His mother cherished the hope that he might some day 
become a clergyman of the Presbyterian Church, and so 
used her exertions to secure him the advantages of better 
schools. The first school of this kind which he attended 
was an academy in the Waxhaw settlement, where his 
mother resided, of which one Dr. Humphreys was master. 
There is a strong tradition that he also subsequently at- 
tended a school in Charlotte, N. C, quite noted in that 


^-Z.Ci^l^C^o' c:>^ c/^ 

t.J (P-'-^ 




day as " Queen's College," and this appears to be confii-med 
by a remark of Gen. Jackson, made to the delegates from 
Cliarlotte at the -time he was President at Washington. 
It has been claimed that Jackson also attended the famous 
school of Dr. Waddell, one of whose pupils was John C. 
Calhoun. " I was inclined to believe this," says Mr. Par- 
ton, " until I discovered that Dr. Waddell did not open 1iis 
academy until after Jackson had left school forever." The 
same author says, " He learned to read, write, and cast ac- 
counts, — little more." If he began, as he may have done, 
to learn by heart, in the old-fashioned way, the Latin gram- 
mar, he never acquired enough of it to leave any traces of 
classical knowledge in his luind or his writings. In some 
of his later letters there may be found, it is true, an occa- 
sional Latin phrase of two or three words, but so quoted as 
to show ignorance rather than knowledge. He was never a 
well-informed man. He never was addicted to books. He 
never learned to write the English language correctly, though 
he often wrote it eloquently and convincingly. He never 
learned to spell correctly, though he was a better sp.^ller 
than Frederic II., Marlborough, Napoleon, or Washington. 
Few men of his day, and no women, were correct spellers. 
Indeed, we may say that all the most illustrious men have 
been bad spellers except those who could not spell at all. . . . 
His mistakes, however, during the last forty j'ears of his 
life did not average more than five to a page. His style, 
when he wrote at leisure and for purposes merely formal, 
was that of a person upaccustomed to composition. Awk- 
ward repetitions occur, and mistakes in grammar as well as 
in spelling. But when his feelings were excited he could 
pour a flood of veliement eloquence upon paper, and with 
such rapidity that his manuscript would be wet two or 
three pages behind. But even this required correction. 
Not one public paper of any description signed " Andrew 
Jackson" ever reached the public eye exactly as Jackson 
wrote it. Often he would write a letter or a dispatch, have 
it copied by a secretary, and then rewrite it himself. 
Some of his most famous passages — those which are sup- 
posed to be peculiarly Jacksonian — he never so much as 
suggested a word of, nor saw till they were written, nor 
required the alteration of a syllable before they were dis- 
patched. It is, nevertheless, a fact that he was more truly 
the aulJior of his public writings than almost any other of 
our public men have been of the documents tvkich bear their 
names. His secretaries wrote with his fiery mind, though 
with their own practiced hands, and wrote with more 
nerve and warmth when writing for him than they ever 
could for themselves. . . . The secret was that Jackson 
supplied the COURAGE, a prime ingredient of powerful 
composition. " I take the responsibility," he would say on 
all occasions when a subordinate faltered. 

The schools, then, contributed little to the equipment of 
this eager boy for the battle of life. He derived much from 
the honest and pure people among whom he was brought 
up. Their instinct of honesty was strong in him always. 
He imbibed a reverence for the character of woman, and a 
love of purity, which, amid all bis wild ways, kept him 
stainless. In this particular, we believe, he was without 
reproach from youth to old age. He deeply loved his 
mother, and held her memory sacred to the end of life. 

He used often to speak of the courage she displayed when 
left without a protector in the wilderness, and would some- 
times clinch a remark or an argument by saying, " That I 
learned from my good old mother." He once said, in 
speaking of his mother, "One of the last injunctions given 
me by her was never to institute a suit for assault and 
battery or for defamation ; never to wound the feelings of 
others, nor sufl"er my own to be outraged ; these were her 
words to me ; I remember them well, and have never failed 
to respect them ; my settled course through life has been to 
bear them in mind, and never to Insult or wantonly to as- 
sail the feelings of any one ; and yet many conceive me to 
be a most ferocious animal, insensible to moral duty, and 
regardless of the laws both of God and man." 

AVheu the Revolution had reached that part of South 
Carolina where young Jackson resided, he was a youth of 
thirteen years of age. Robert was too young to be a sol- 
dier, but his oldest brother, Hugh, had two years before 
joined the army under Col. Davie, had fought at the battle 
of Stono, and died after the action from heat and fatigue. 
After the terrible havoc of the 29th of May, 1780, by 
Tarleton's dragoons in the Waxhaw settlement, Robert and 
Andrew assisted their mother in taking care of the wounded 
in the old wooden church of the neighborhood. Upon the 
great disaster of the war in the South, the defeat of Gen. 
Gates, Aug. 16, 1780, the boys and their mother abandoned 
their home for a safer retreat north of the scene of war. 

A vivid picture is given by Parton, from the memory of 
Mrs. Susan Smart, of Charlotte, of the appearance of young 
Andrew as he made his way northward on that memorable 
occasion : 

" Time, — late in the afternoon of a hot, dusty September 
day in 1780. Place, — the high-road, five miles below 
Charlotte, where Mrs. Smart then lived, a saucy girl of 
fourteen, at the house of her parents. The news of Gates' 
defeat had flown, over the country, but every one was gasp- 
ing for details, especially those who had fathers and brothers 
in the patriot army. The father and brother of Mrs. 
Smart were in that army, and the family, as yet, knowing 
nothing of their fate, — a condition of suspense to which 
the women of the Carolinas were well used during the 
Revolutionary war. It was the business of Susan, during 
those days, to take post at one of the windows, and there 
watch for travelers coming from the south, and, upon 
spying one, to fly out upon him and ask him for news from 
the army, and of the corps to which her father and brother 
were attached. Thus posted, she descried, on the afternoon 
to which we have referred, riding rapidly on a ' grass 
pony' (one of the ponies of the South Carolina swamps, 
rough, Shetlandish, wild), a tall, slender, 'gangling fellow;' 
legs long enough to meet under the pony almost; damaged 
wide-brimmed hat flapping down over his face, which was 
yellow and worn ; the figure covered with dust; tired-look- 
ins;, as though the youth had ridden till he could scarcely 
sit on his pony, — the forlornest apparition that ever revealed 
itself to the eyes of Mrs. Susan Smart during the whole of 
her long life. She ran out to the road and hailed him. 
He reined in his pony, when the following brief conversa- 
tion ensued between them ; 

" She. — Where are you from ? 



" ^e.^From below. 

" She. — Where are you going? 

" JTe. — Above. 

"^S/ie.— AVhoareyoufor? 

" 5"e.— The Congress. 

" She. — What are you doing below ? 

" -Se. — Oh, we are popping them still. 

" She (to herself). — It is mighty poor popping such as 
you will do, anyhow. (Aloud.) What's your name? 

" He. — Andrew Jackson. 

"She asked him respecting her father's regiment, and 
he gave her what information he possessed. He then gal- 
loped away towards Charlotte, and Susan returned to her 
house to tell her news and ridicule the figure he had cut, — 
the gangling fellow on the grass pony. Years after she 
used to laugh as she told the story ; and later, when the 
most thrilling news of the time used to come to Charlotte 
associated with the name of Andrew Jackson, still she 
would bring out her little tale, until at last, she made it 
get votes for him for the Presidency." 

At the time Jackson appeared on the " grass pony" he 
was going to Mrs. Wilson's, a relative, who lived a few 
miles above Charlotte. He stayed there and did chores for 
his board a few weeks, his mother and Robert being either 
there or at some other house in the neighborhood. In Feb- 
ruary, 1781, Blrs. Jackson and her sons and many of the 
neighbors returned to the ravaged homes at Washaw. 
The desultory war between Whigs and Tories was soon re- 
newed in that section. Robert and Andrew were taken 
prisoners at the house of their cousin, Lieut. Thomas Craw- 
ford, who lay ill from a wound received the day before from 
a party of dragoons. Before the family had suspicion of 
danger, the house was surrounded and the doors secured. 
Regardless of the fact that the house was occupied by the 
defenseless wife and young children of a wounded soldier, 
the dragoons, brutalized by mean partisan warfare, began to 
destroy with wild riot and noise the contents of the house. 
Crockery, gkss, and furniture were dashed to pieces, beds 
emptied, the clothing of the family torn to rags, even the 
clothes of the infant, which Mrs. Crawford carried in her 
arms, were not spared. While this destruction was going 
on, the officer in command of the party ordered Andrew to 
clean his high jack-boots, which were well splashed and 
crusted with mud. The reply which the boy made was 
worthy of a prince : " Sir, I am a prisoner of war, and 
claim to be treated as such." 

The fate of the brotliers was next to suffer as prisoners 
at Camden. The wounded Lieut. Crawford, the Jacksons, 
and some two hundred and fifty other prisoners, were con- 
fined in a contracted inclosure around the Camden jail; no 
beds of any description, no medical attendance, nor means 
of dressing their wounds; their only food a scanty supply 
of bad bread. They were even robbed of part of their 
clothing. The three relatives were separated as soon as 
their relationship was discovered. Miserable among the 
miserable, gaunt, yellow, hungry, and sick, robbed of his 
jacket and socks, ignorant of his brother's fate, chafing with 
suppressed fury, — Andrew passed now some of the most 
wretched days of his life. Ere long the smallpox broke 
out among the prisoners, and raged unchecked by medicine. 

Thus they remained, the sick, the dying, and the dead to- 
gether. Andrew for some time escaped the contagion. 
While in this prison-camp he took his first lesson in recon- 
noitring an army on the field of battle. Gen. Greene, 
having arrived with a force superior to that of Lord Raw- 
don's, which occupied Camden, encamped on a slight emi- 
nence in front of the jail-yard, which was only hidden 
from full view of the prisoners by a high board-fence which 
surrounded the inclosure. All tiie prisoners were overjoyed 
with the prospect of being speedily released from their suf- 
ferings, as the news of Gen. Greene's arrival spread among 
them. Andrew looked for a crevice in the board-fence, 
through which he might feast his longing eyes on the camp 
of the soldiers, but he could find none. In the course of 
the night, however, he managed, with the aid of an old 
razor-blade, which had been generously bestowed upon the 
prisoners as a meat-knife, to hack out a knot from the fence. 
The morning light found him spying out the American 
position with eager eye. What he saw that morning 
through the knot-hole of his prison was his second lesson 
in the art of war. An impressive lesson it proved, and one 
he never forgot. There was the American encampment 
spread out in full view before him at the distance of a mile. 
Gen. Greene, being well assured of Rawdon's weakness, and 
anticipating nothing so little as an attack from a man whom 
he supposed to be trembling for his own safety, neglected 
precautions against surprise. At ten in the morning, when 
Rawdon led out his nine hundred men to the attack, An- 
drew, mad with vexation, saw Greene's men scattered over 
the hill, cleaning their arms, washing their clothes, and 
playing games, totally unprepared to resist. Rawdon, by 
taking a circuitous route, was enabled to break upon 
Greene's left with all the effect of a surprise. From his 
knot-hole the excited youth saw the sudden smoke of mus- 
ketry, the rush of the Americans for their arms, the hasty 
faliing-in, the opening of Greene's fire, the fine dash of 
American horse upon Rawdon's rear, the wild flight of 
horses running riderless about the Iiill, the fire slackening, 
and, alas! receding, till Rawdon's army swept over the hill 
and vanished on the other side, Greene in full retreat before 
him. Tiie prisoners were in despair. Andrew's spirits 
sank under this accumulation of miseries, and he began to 
sicken with the first symptoms of the smallpox. Robert 
was in a condition stilU worse. The wound in his head 
had never been dressed, and had not healed. He, too, re- 
duced as he was, began to shiver and burn with the fever 
that announces the dread disease. Another week of prison- 
life would have probably consigned both boys to the grave. 
But they had a friend outside, — their mother, who at 
this crisis of their fate strove with the might of love for 
their deliverance. Learning of their forlorn condition, 
this heroic woman went to Camden and succeeded, after a 
time, in effecting an exchange of prisoners between a Wax- 
haw captain and a British general. The Whig captain gave 
up thirteen soldiers, whom he had captured in the rear of 
the British army, and received in return the two sons of Mrs. 
Jackson and five of her neighbors." Through forty miles 
of lonely wilderness the little company made their way 
home, Robert Jackson being supported on a horse by one 
of the exchanged prisoners, and Andrew, bare-headed, bare- 



footed, and without a jacket, the fever of the smallpox 
rasi'ing in his veins, dragged himself wearily along on foot. 
Part of their journey was through a cold, drizzling rain, 
-which aggravated the disease. In two days after they 
reached home Robert was a corpse, and Andrew was raving 
in delirium. He remained an invalid for several months. 
Andrew was no sooner out of danger than his brave mother 
resolved to go to Charleston to minister to the sufferings of 
her sister's sons, who were prisoners on the loathsome prison- 
ships in that harbor. She made the journey, one hundred 
and sixty miles, probably on hor.sebaok, with two or three 
other women bound on a like mission, ministered to the 
prisoners, and was seized with the ship fever, of which she 
died shortly after at the house of a relative, William Bar- 
ton, a few miles out of Charleston. 

We have thus traced the thread of events to the most 
sad and lonely period in the life of our hero, — a period 
when all of the family but himself had fallen, and left him 
alone in the world, doubly bereaved in the loss of his 
mother and his brothers. " It was not in the nature of 
Jackson not to mourn deeply for such a mother, and as ho 
lay recovering by slow degrees from his illness, he had 
leisure to dwell upon her virtues and his own unhappiaess. 
It was always a grief to him that he did not know where 
her remains were laid. As late in life as during his Presi- 
dency he set on foot some inquiries respecting the place of 
her burial, with the design of having her sacred dust re- 
moved to the old church-yard at Waxhaw, where he wished 
to erect a monument to both his parents. It was too late. 
No exact information could be obtained, and the project 
was given up. No stone marks the burial-place either 
of his father, mother, or brothers." 

We must sum up rapidly some of the events of his life. 
He read law in Salisbury, N. C, in the office of Judge 
Spruce McCay during the years 1785 and 1786. Forty- 
five years after this period, when some one from Salisbury 
reminded him of his residence in that town, he said, with 
a smile and a look of retrospection on his aged face, '• Yes, 
I lived at old Salisbury. I was but a raw lad then, but 
I did my best." 

The advent of Gen. Jackson to Tennessee occurred in 
the year 1788, immediately after the settlement of the 
difficulties between North Carolina and her western coun- 
ties growing out of the formation of the . independent 
" State of Franklin." John McNairy, a friend of Jack- 
son's and former associate with him in the study of law, 
was appointed judge of the Superior Court for the western 
district. Jackson was invested with the office of prosecu- 
ting attorney for the same district. This office was not in 
request nor desirable in the then new state of the country, 
but Jackson accepted it because he' had determined to seek 
his fortune in his profession in the new country, about which 
such glowing accounts were rife in the Carolinas. Thomas 
Searcy, another of Jackson's friends, was appointed clerk 
of the court. Three or four more of his young acquaint- 
ances, lawyers and others, resolved to go with him. The 
party rendezvoused at Morgantown in the spring or early 
summer of 1788, mounted and equipped for a ride over 
the mountains to Jonesboro', then the chief halting-place 
for companies bound to lands on the Cumberland River. 

This cavalcade of judge, attorney, clerk, and lawyers wended 
their way in do'uble file along the usual road, each riding 
his own horse, a pack-horse or two carrying the eifects of 
the learned judge. Every horseman had in his own saddle- 
bags a small wallet in which he carried letters from citizens 
in the old State to settlers in Tennessee. Jonesboro' at 
this time was a place of fifty or sixty log houses, and a 
new court-house had beeus erected, but it was an edifice 
of unhewn logs, sixteen feet square, and without windows 
or floor. The judge and his party waited several weeks at 
Jonesboro' for the assembling of a sufficient number of 
immigrants and for the arrival of a guard from Nashville 
to escort them. This was a military guard provided by 
the people of Davidson County to defend the immigrants 
against the Indians. 

The Stale Gazette of North Carolina, of Nov. 28, 
1788, announcing the departure of Judge McNairy's com- 
pany for Nashville, has the following : " Notice is hereby 
given that the new road from Campbell's Station to Nash- 
ville was opened on the 25th of September, and the guard 
attended at that time to escort such persons as were ready 
to proceed to Nashville ; that about sixty families went on, 
amongst whom were the widow and family of the late Gen. 
Davidson, and John McNairy, judge of the Superior Court; 
and that on the 1st day of October next the guard will 
attend at the same place for the same purpose." 

The date above given fixes the time very nearly when 
Gen. Jackson arrived at Nashville. He remained here 
discharging the functions of his office as district attorney 
and practicing at the bar till the State was admitted into 
the Union, when he was elected its first representative in 
Congress, and served till March 3, 1797. In the next 
Congress he was United States senator, and served about 
one year, when he resigned his seat to accept the appoint- 
ment tendered him by Governor Sevier in the following 
letter : 

"K.xoxviLLE, 29th August, 179S. 
"Sir, — It has been communicated to me by several re- 
spectable characters that was you appoiuted one of the 
judges of the Superior Court of Law and Equity, they 
have reason to believe that you would accept such appoint- 
ment. Tliis information is truly satisfactory to the execu- 
tive, and I have the pleasure of adding that your acceptance 
of the office, I have reason to believe, will give general 

" I -will do myself the honor of informing you that in 
case the office of judge of the Superior Court of Law and 
Equity meets your approbation, you will please consider 
yourself as already appointed. I hope the pleasure of 
seeing you at the next term of the Superior Court to be 
holdcn at this place, where I intend myself the honor of 
presenting you with the commission. Your answer is re- 

" I have the honor to be, sir, 

" With much respect and esteem, 
" Your most ob' hum" sv', 

"John Sevier. 

"The IIon'ble Andrew Jackso.v, Esq." 
Gen. Jackson accepted the appointment, which he held 



till subsequently elected to the same judicial office by the 
Legislature, and remained upon the bench till 1804. It 
was while he was judge of the Superior Court of Law and 
Equity that the well-known quarrel occurred between him 
and Governor Sevier. 

It may sound strange, in view of Gen. Jackson's many 
conflicts during the early part of his life, to say that he was 
not a quarrelsome man ; but we verily believe, after a close 
and impartial study of his character, that such was not. the 
fact. He was a man of the most marked and chivalrous 
sense of honor, especially in relation to the duty of defend- 
ing those dependent upon him, or in any way related to 
him ; and he frequently got into diflScultios, not on his own 
account, but by espousing the cause of others when their 
characters were in any way assailed or traduced. In the 
case of the quarrel with Sevier, there can be little doubt 
that this lay at the bottom of it. It was charged that cer- 
- tain land-speculators in Tennessee were engaged in the for- 
gery of North Carolina land-warrants. These fraudulent 
warrants wore largely sold, and the consternation among 
the settlers was great when the report of the probable worth- 
lessness of their titles was mooted. Governor Sevier, from 
some apparently suspicious circumstances, was implicated in 
the matter, while a near relative of Mrs. Jackson was in- 
dicted for his supposed complicity with it. Gen. Jackson de- 
nounced the fraud with unsparing severity, and used all his 
influence and authority to bring the offenders to justice. 
He fully believed Governor Sevier guilty, and attributed 
the involvement of his connection to his influence and ex- 

" About this time (1803) Sevier was again a candidate 
for Governor, having been out of the office one term, on 
account of ineligibility under the Constitution of Tennessee. 
Gen. Jackson bitterly opposed him. In the fall of that year 
he was holding court at Knosvillc, the capital of the State. 
The Legislature was in session. On the first day of the 
term of court, Governor Sevier had an appointment to speak 
in the public square. Political excitement ran high, and • 
the town was filled with people. While he was haranguing 
his audience and vehemently defending himself, the court 
adjourned, and Judge (General) Jackson, with others, 
passed out and joined the throng who were listening to the 
speech. As soon as the Governor observed him he began 
to denounce him in the strongest language, and applied to 
liim the most opprobrious epithets. Jackson, as opportu- 
nity offered, retorted in kind, and the unseemly altercation 
was maintained for several minutes. At length the Gov- 
ernor made an ofl^ensive allusion to Mrs. Jackson. 

" This aroused the general's uncontrollable wrath, and lie 
made frantic eiForts to reach the speaker, although armed 
with nothing but a cane, whilst his antagonist, in his excite- 
ment, was flourishing a sword, a weapon usually worn by 
gentlemen in those days. Pistols were drawn by the friends 
of the parties, and a bloody riot seemed for a while inevi- 
table, and was only prevented by the active exertions of 
cooler-minded men. The Governor continued to hurl his 
anathemas towards the general as the latter was led from 
the scone, vociferated his readiness to meet him on ' the 
field of honor,' and tauntingly defied him to invite him 
there. On the following day the general challenged him." 

We give, from the original papers published recently in 
the Cincinnati Commercial, the correspondence entire : 


" KN0XVILL15, Oct. 2, 1803. 

" Sir : The ungentlemanly expression and gasgonading 
conduct of yours, relative to me yesterday, was in true 
character of yourself, and unmasked you to the world, and 
plainly shows that they were the ebulitions of a base mind, 
goaded with stubborn proofs of fraud, and flowing from a 
source devoid of any refined sentiment or delicate sensation. 
'• But, sir, the voice of the people has made you a Gov- 
ernor. This alone makes you worthy of any notice, or the 
notice of any Gentleman. For the Office I have respect, 
and as such I only deign to notice you and call upon you 
for that satisfaction and explanation that your ungentle- 
manly conduct and expressions require. For this purpose 
I request an interview, and my friend, who will hand you 
this, will point out the time and place, when & where I 
shall expect to see you with your friend and no other per- 
son. My friend and myself will be armed with Pistols, — 
you cannot mistake me or my meaning. 

" I am, &o., &o., And'w Jackson. 

"Gov. John Sevier." 


"Sir: Yours to-day by Andr Whithe, Esqr., I have 
received, and am pleased with the contents, so far as re- 
spects a personal interview. 

" Your ungentlemanly and Gasgonading conduct of yes- 
terday, and indeed at all other times, heretofore, have un- 
unmasked yourself to me and to the world. The voice of 
the Assembly has made you a Judge, and this alone has 
made you worthy of my notice or any other gentleman ; to 
the ofiioe I have respect, and this alone makes you worthy 
of my notice. 

" I shall wait on you with pleasure at any time and place 
not within the State of Tennessee, attended by my friend 
with pistols, presuming you know nothing about the use of 
any other arms. Georgia, Virginia, and North Carolina 
are in our vicinity, and wc can easily repair to either of 
those places, and conveniently retire into the iuoffending 
Government. You cannot mistake me or my meaning. 
■ " Yours, &c., &c., John Sevier. 

" Hon. A. Jackso.v." 


' OcTR. 3a, 1803. 

"Mr. Railings, 

" Sir : Your note without date handed by Capt. Sparks, 
and which I suppose was wrote this morning, is now be- 
fore me, and I am happy to find that the interview pro- 
posed by me in my note of yesterday, is pleasing to you, 
but I am sorry, sir, that the answer has been .so long upon 
its passage, and that my friend Mr. A. White was obliged 
to call so often on yesterday. You say you will wait on me 
at any time and place not within the State of Tennessee. 

" This, sir, I view as a mere subterfuge ; your attack was 
in the'town of Knoxville ; in the town of Knoxville did you 
take the name of a Lady into your polluted lips ; in the 



town of Knoxville did you challenge me to draw, when you 
were armed with a cutlass and I with a cain — and now sir 
in the Neighborhood of Knoxville you shall atone for it or 
I will publish you as a coward and a poltroon. 

" I now call upon you, that you will this day meet me in 
the manner prescribed by my note of yesterday. If\i will 
obviate your sqeemish fears, I will set out immediately to 
the nearest part of the Indian boundry line, on receiving 
an answer to this note. To travel to Georgia, Virginia or 
North Carolina, is a proposition made by you to evade the 
thing entirely. I am therefore compelled to be explicit ; 
you must meet me between this and four o'clock, this after- 
noon, either in the neighborhood of Knoxville or on the 
nearest point of the Indian Boundry line, or I will publish 
you as a coward and poltroon. I shall expect an answer in 
the space of one hour, or I shall expect as you are so fear- 
ful of the consequences of a breach of the law that you may 
think it advisable to shield your body from paying the 
debts of honour under the law, as you have heretofore your 
property. I pledged my honor on yesterday, my friend did 
the same, that no advantage of the law shall or will be taken 
by me or my friends, let the consequences be as they may. 
"I am, sir, &c., &c., ANDREW Jackson. 

" Gov. John Sevier." 


"3d Oct. 180,3. 

" Sir : Your letter of this day is before me and I am 
happy to find you so accommodating. My friend will agree 
upon the time and place of rendezvous. 

" Yours, &c., &c., John Sevier. 

" Hon. A. Jackson." 

" Knoxville, Octr. 9th, 1S03. 
" Sir : After this note, I will bid you adieu, it being the 
last you will receive from me on the point of honor, the 
subject of my note to you dated the second inst. From the 
Henor of yours of the third inst. in answer to my note of 
the morning of the same day, I did believe, that all that re- 
mained to be done, was for our friends to immediately pro- 
ceed, and the satisfaction required in my note of the second 
inst. was immediately to be given — as I had expressly 
named in my note of the third, that unless you did meet 
me between then & four o'clock of the evening of the 
same day, or set out immediately to the Indian boundry 
line a place I had named, to remove your squemish fears, 
that I would advertise you as a coward and poltroon, but 
judge my astonishment, when it was stated to me by my 
friend (after application to Capt. Sparks, your friend, to fix 
the time, and to proceed to a place to be named, agreeable 
to your note) that in express contradiction thereto — he 
stated that you had instructed him not to name a day 
sooner than the 8th inst. I directed my friend to state to 
him expressly, if he did not, agreeable to your note, imme- 
diately proceed to name a time and place that after 4 
o'clock I would advertise you as a coward and poltroon, and 
that censure might attach to him, as he was by your note 
authorized to act. He replyed, he hoped I would not ad- 

vertise you, but if I did he could not help it, that ho was 
strictly persuing your instructions, of which I have no 
doubt, as I believe him to be a man of truth. I then had 
a right to expose you. I thought I would that evening, 
post you as a coward ; but to leave you no subterfuge I de- 
termined to wait until the 8th day of your choice. On the 
7th inst. Capt. A. White waited on Capt. Sparks, your 
friend, to be informed of your determination, and did em- 
phatically state to you through Capt. Sparks, that we had 
waited your own time and expected you had instructed him 
to state that on the morning of the 8th that you would bo 
ready to meet me in the vicinity of Knoxville, or be ready 
to set out to the Indian boundry line, there to satisfy my 

" The answer was : No arrangement made ; still not 
ready. Capt. Sparks was again told to state to you, unless 
you did meet me on the 8th inst. you would be posted as a 
coward and poltroon. On the 8th an answer was returned 
to my friend, Capt. Andrew White, that you could not see 
me until the committee business was over. 

" The delays I thought were intended as a mere subter- 
fuge for your cowardice. You will recollect that you on 
the 1st inst. in the public streets of Knoxville appeared 
to pant for the combat. You Ransacked the Vocabulary 
of Vulgarity for insulting and blackguard expressions ; 
you without provocation made the attack, and in an ungen- 
tlemanly manner took the sacred name of a Lady in your 
polluted lips, and dared me publicly to challenge you, and 
now, since you gave the insult, you have cowardly evaded 
an interview. On that day you appeared at Court. You 
ought, at least before you make a premeditated attack, to be 
ready to repair the injury of the call of the injured. I have 
waited your time. I have named the Indian boundry line, 
to prevent you from having any subterfuge, to which you 
agreed, — and all in vain. Cowardice is now your only chance 
of safety ; to that you have resorted ; and as you will not 
give that redress in the field that the injury you have done 
requires, and as your old age protects you from that chas- 
tisement you merit, the justice I owe myself and country 
urges me to unmask you to the world in your true colors. 

" In the Gazzett of Blonday next I have spoken for a 
place in that paper for the following Advertisement, and 
have named publicly that you are the greatest coward I 
ever had anything to do with. The Advertisement as fol- 
lows : 

" ' To all who shall see these presents, greeting : Know ye 
that I, Andrew Jackson, do Pronounce, Publish, and De- 
clare to the world, that his Excellency John Sevier, Esq., 
Captain-General and Commander-in-Chief of the Land and 
Naval forces of the State of Tennessee, is a base Coward 
and Poltroon. He will basely insult, but has not courage 
to repair the wound. 

' Andrew Jackson.' 

" You may prevent the insertion of the above by meeting 
me in one or two hours after the receipt of this note ; my 
friend who will hand you this, is authorized so to declare, 
on a written note being signed by you and delivered to him, 
staling time as above, and place, and on no other terms. I 
shall set out for home ou the result about the middle of the 



day. I hope it 'will not be stated, that I ran away for fear 
of you, and your friends. Adieu. 

"Andrew Jackson. 

"Go\'. JouN Sevier." 

[The following memorandum is indorsed on the back of 
the original draft of this letter in Gen. Jackson's hand 
writing :] 

" Capt. Sparks, on friday evening, the 7th inst., thro' 
my friend Capt. White, requested to have an interview, to 
■which I agreed. In the course of the conversation he 
named to me if an accommodation could take place ? I 
answered that I expected it could not, — that Governor Se- 
vier, as a man of courage, could not make such concessions 
as would be acceptable to uie. Capt. Sparks then said the 
inquiry was unauthorized, but if it was to go any further 
he would wash his hands of it. I then told him to state to 
Governor Sevier his intentions, and also if Governor Sevier 
did not meet me on the 8th I would publish him as a cow- 
ard and a poltroon. Answer on the 8th that he would 
not meet me until his business was over with the commit- 
tee, as stated within. Capt. Sparks left Knoxville on the 
8th of October, the day that had been named by him as the 
time for meeting." 


" Knoxville, Octr. — 1S03. 

" Sir, — Yours of this day by Capt. A. White I have 
raced. As to answering your long detail of paper gascon- 
ading, I shall not give myself the trouble. You need not 
be uneasy about an interview, for you shall be favored with 
a hearty concurrance, but I shall not neglect the public bus- 
iness I am bound to attend to, nor my own private business 
now before the House, that you and several other poltroons 
are aiming at to my prejudice. 

"An interview within the State you know I have denied. 
Any where outside, you have nothing further to do but 
name the place and I will the time. I have some regard 
for the laws of the State over which I have the honor to 
preside, although you, a Judge, appear to have none. It is 
to be hoped that if by any strange and unexpected event you 
should ever be metamorphosed into an upright and virtuous 
Judge, you will feel the propriety of being Governed and 
Guided by the laws of the State you are sacredly bound to 
obey and regard. As to answering all your jargon of pre- 
tended bravery, I assure you it is perfectly beneath my 
character, having never heard of any you ever exhibited. 
" Yours, &c., &c., Jno. Sevier. 

" Ilonl. JoDGE J.VCKSO-V." 


"Kn'OXVille, Mond:\y Morning. 

" Sir, — Some part of the boundry lines between this 
State and the State of Virginia is within forty-five miles of 
this place. 

" I have heard after all your gasconading conduct that 
you are preparing to leave town within a day or two; you 
have not named a place out of the limits of this State where 
you and myself can have a personal interview, notwithstand- 

ing you have been informed that you might name the place 
and I would the time. Such conduct is characteristic with 
yourself. This is the last I shall write you on the subject. 
" Yours, &c., &c., John Sevier. 

" P. S. — My friend Capt. Sparks being absent at this 
moment I have requested Mr. Mclin to hand you this note. 
"Hon. A. Jacksox." 


"Knoxville, Monday, 12 o'clock, Octr 10, 1803. 

" Sir, — Your note by Mr. William Machlin is this 
moment handed me, and I hasten to reply, that you have 
been well informed what part of the Indian boundry line, 
I would go with you to relieve you from your fears. South 
west point was named and that I would accommodate your 
fears by going there. You have been informed, invited, and 
requested to meet me there, within the vicinity of this place 
or any place that could be named that would be convenient. 
You have refused and evaded a meeting through mere cow- 
ardice ; you may yet retreive your character, by seeing me 
in this neighborhood or at South west point. If in this 
neighborhood, this evening or early to-morrow morning. 
If at South west point, to-morrow evening, or on Wednes- 
day next, any time before 12 o'clock of that day. If 
you incline to this meting, I will expect to be notified by 

" I well know your friend Capt. Sparks is absent, he told 
me and my friend, Capt. A White, on Friday evening, that 
for certain reasons ho washed his hands of it, and was re- 
quested if he did, to state to you, and to state further that 
agreeable to your appointment on the 8th we would expect 
to hear from you, or I would post you, as you have hereto- 
fore been advised. 

" Capt. Sparks stated to my friend that he had stated to 
you all that he had promised, and gave for answer, as I ad-- 
vised you yesterday. You certainly are not so friendless, 
that you can get no friend. This will not do so well for 
a come off. The advertisement is in the press. I leave 
Knoxville to-morrow after Breakfiist ; will obay a call from 
you between this and that time, in the vicinity of this place 
and I assure you that I will be happy to see you in a situa- 
tion, that I can obtain that redress that I have been trying 
to compel you to afford me for nine days past, and which 
you pledged your honor to my friend to give, and which 
you have forfeighted. 

" Andrew Jackson. 

" Govr. Jno. Sevier." 

[Memorandum by General Jackson, indorsed :] 
"This letter was handed to. Mr. William Machlin, to 

hand to the Governor, in the presence of Capt. A. White, 

which Mr. Machlin promised to deliver."] 


"Knoxville, Oct. 10th, 1803, in the Evening. 
"Sir, — I am again perplexed with your scurrilous and 
poltroon language. You now pretend you want an in- 
terview in this neighborhood this evening, or to-morrow 
morning, and all this great readiness, after you had been so 



repeatedly iuformed that I would not attempt a thing of 
the kind within the state of Tennessee. I have constantly 
informed you I would cheerfully wait on you in any other 
quarter, and that you had nothing to do but name the place 
and you should be accommodated. I am now constrained 
to tell you that your conduct during the whole of your pre- 
tended bravery, shows you to be a pitiful poltroon and cow- 
ard, for your propositions are such as you and every other 
person of common understanding do well know is out of 
my power to accede to, especially you a Judge ! ! There- 
fore the whole tenor of your pretended readiness is intended 
for making nothing more than a cowardly evasion. Now, 
Sir, if you wish the interview accept the proposal I made 
j'ou and let us prepare for the campaign. 

" I have a friend to attend me. I shall not receive an- 
other letter from you, as I deem you a coward. 

" John Sevier. 

" Hon. A. Jacksox." 


" Knoxville, Ma. Rawlincs, Octr. llth, 1803, 7..30 p.m. 

" Sir, — I am just informed by a confidential friend that 
you have been staling this evening that you have been 
always and are now ready to meet me at any point on the 
Virginia line. This, Sir, was not the language you made 
use of to my friend Capt. Andrew White, when he waited 
upon J'OU last evening in consequence of your note that 
squinted at that object, and stated that you had a friend to 
attend you, and requested me to prepare for the campaign. 

" It was then answered by you that you could not then 
go, and not before Saturday next, and this too after you 
had named Mr. Robertson's in the State of Virginia, to 
which my friend agreed and told you I was ready to set out. 
Under existing circumstances the above information of 
your readiuess is the only reason operating with me again 
to trouble you with another note. And now, Sir, that the 
thing may be well understood, and a final end put to all 
such ideas, & that you may have it your power if so dis- 
posed to render me that satisfaction I have been so in vain 
trying to obtain I have to request that you will imme- 
diately with your friend set out with me and mine, to Mr. 
Robertson's near the Cumberland Gap in the State of Vir- 
ginia, there to render me that satisfaction required of you 
by my note of the 2d inst. I have directed my friend 
Capt. A. White to require of you to state in writing under- 
neath this signature, that you will meet me at the above 
place and that you will sign the same. From my informa- 
tion of your expression, I have no doubt (if real) but you 
will be ready to set out on the morning of the 12th inst., 
and we can reach the wished-for point the same evening. 

" Recollect, sir, I have come to your terms as to the place, 
and the injured has the right to name the time. I there- 
fore call upon you to meet me between this and Thursday 
evening next ; the hour you may name yourself. If this 
is too short I will extend it to your own time. 

" I have just to remark that it is high time the thing 
should be put an end to, and I do require of you to state 
a time on this piece of paper, that you will meet me for the 
purpose before mentioned. The Virginia line has lately 
been your stand ; to prevent further evasion I have come 

to that proposition ; I hope you will come to mine with 
respect to time or forever after hold your peace. 

" It has been stated to me that you have avowed this 
evening that the place was your only objection to your 
meeting me. You named to my friend last evening that 
prosecutions were talked of The surest method to avoid 
and prevent that is an eaily and secret interview. 

" If you wish to keep a copy of this my friend will give 
you one and attest the same, with your answer in writing. 
Time is precious with me ; nothing ^detains me from my 
family but waiting on you for an accommodation of this 
business, and I have instructed my friend to have such an 
answer as will be final. I am sir, &o., &o. 

" Andrew Jackson. 

" Governor John Sevieu.'' 

[Memorandum by Gen. Jackson, endorsed:] 

" BIr. White, my friend, reported as follows: ' I carried 
this letter this morning and presented it to him, and after 
looking at the back of it refused to open it, saying he would 
not read it. I insisted that he would ; he said he would 
have nothing to do with the Judge or any of his Notes (or 
words to that efi'ect). I then told him the Judge was about 
to start home, and as it had been stated to him yesterday 
evening by some of his friends, that you said you were 
always ready and was now ready to see him. I told him 
that the contents were, that he was about to take his leave 
of Knoxville and that he would now, or at your own time, 
see you at your favorite spot ; he utterly refused, &c., &c., 
&c.' " 

With this the correspondence terminated. 

Gen. Jackson published his " advertisement" as threat- 
ened. It was somewhat diflferent from the one he advised 
the Governor of his intention to publish, but the purport is 
the same : 


" Those of the Honorable members of the Legislature 
and other citizens who were present on the first day of this 
instant in the Town of Knoxville will recollect the ungen- 
tlemanly and unprovoked attack made by his Excellency 
John Sevier, Governor of the State of Tennessee, on me — 
How he Panted for combat when armed with a cutlass and 
I with a cain — His Excellency in perfect Health, I just re- 
covering from a severe illness ! They will also recollect his 
Gasconading Expressions and his repeated darings for me 
to invite him to the field of Honor. 

" To all wiiom shall see these presents Greeting — Know 

ye that I, Andrew Jackson, do pronounce, Publish, and 

declare to the world, that his Excellency John Sevier, Esq., 

Governor, Captain-General, and Commander-in-chief of the 

Land and Naval forces of the State of Tennessee, is a base 

coward and poltroon — he will basely insult but has not the 

courage to repair the Wound. 

" Andrew Jackson." 

When we reflect that these mutual charges of cowardice 
were exchanged between men of unquestionable courage— 
the Hero of King's Mountain and the Hero of New Or- 
leans—the absurdity of yielding to ill-regulated passion is 
made ludicrously manifest. The " advertisement" is as in- 
credible as would have been the " posting" of Agamemnon 



by Achilles on the walls of Troy. Governor Sevier, by bis 
hasty and intemperate s^peech, placed himself in a seriously 
false position, of which his insulted and fiery opponent took 
prompt advantage. He escaped the predicament rather 
awkwardly it must be admitted. 

But to the sequel. Gen. Jackson, almost despairing of 
" satisfaction" and extremely disgusted, started, with a 
single friend, for South West Point, entertaining a vague 
hope that his published denunciations of the Governor as 
a poltroon might force him to keep his appointment there. 
After waiting for two days beyond the time fixed, and the 
Governor not appearing, he decided to return to Knosville 
and seek a street-fight, if no other means of redress were 
afibrded him. Wiiat now happened I relate upon the au- 
thority of Maj. Henry Lee, a brother, I believe, of the late 
Gen. Robert E. Lee, for many years an inmate of the 
Hermitage, and who began a " Life of Jackson" while there, 
which remains incomplete. I quote from the MS. : 

" The general and his friend (Dr. Vandyke) had not 
proceeded more than a mile on their way when they met 
the Governor, escorted by about twenty persons. Jackson 
had a note prepared reciting his grievances, and demanding 
redress, which he directed Dr. Vandyke to advance with 
and deliver. The Governor refused to receive it, and the 
doctor brought it back. Jackson rode with a brace of pis- 
tols and had a cane in his hand, and the Governor, who 
likewise had pistols, wore his sword. Being irritated at 
his contemptuous treatment, and resenting the injuries for 
which he was denied the promised satisfaction, he resolved 
at all hazards to have redress, and advancing to within about 
a hundred yards of the Governor, with a measured pace, 
like a knight in the lists he put spurs to his horse, and 
with cane in place of a lance rapidly charged upon him. 
The Governor, secure in the number of his attendants, did 
not expect so bold an onset, aud dismounting in some con- 
fusion is reported to have trod upon his sword, and was left 
unprepared for resistance. Ilis friends now interfered, and 
by them Jackson was induced to discontinue his attack. 
A cessation of hostilities being effected, the parties rode 
on some miles together, and the unpleasant affair termi- 

Immediately after these events a communication appeared 
in a Nashville paper over the signature " A Citizen of 
Knox County," in which Gen. Jackson's course in the 
aifair was severely arraigned, whilst that of Governor Sevier 
was as strongly defended. The general suspected the au- 
thor of the publication to be Mr. William Maclin, then 
Secretary of State, and the gentleman who was intrusted 
with the delivery of one of Governor Sevier's communica- 
tions to him during their hostile correspondence in Knox- 
ville. The suspicion being strongly upon his mind, he 
determined to see Maclin about it. With this view, and 
in company with Maj. Tatum, of the army, who was to 
witness whatever conversation might ensue, he hunted 
Maclin up. The following is the major's account of the 
meeting : 

"On Friday last, as well as I can remember," states the 
major, " Andrew Jackson, Esq., requested me to walk with 

him and evidence a conversation he intended to have with 
William Maclin, Esq., Secretary of State, concerning a 
publication that had made its appearance in the Nashville 
Gazette, under the signature of' A Citizen of Knox County.' 
A conversation accordingly took place the same day in Mr. 
Thomas Talbott's back yard, which was carried on with 
some warmth on both sides. Mr. Maclin acknowledged 
the delivery of the piece to the printer by request of Gov- 
ernor Sevier, but denied any knowledge of the author. 
Judge Jackson insisted that as he had brought the piece 
to the printer he, BIr. Maclin, should be considered by him 
as the author, as, if he, Mr. Maclin, did not wish to be so 
considered, it was improper for him to bring the piece to 
the printer without being able to name who was the author. 
In exoneration of himself Mr. Maclin reiterated his assertion 
of having no knowledge of who the author was. Judge 
Jackson replied that he was a rascal, or a damned rascal, 
I do not remember which, to deliver such a paper and pre- 
tend not to know the author. Mr. Maclin replied that he 
was no more a rascal than the judge, upon which reply the 
judge struck Mr. Maclin with a cane which he had in his 
hand, who upon receiving the .stroke wheeled around and 
went briskly seven or eight yards and made search for a 
weapon to return the assault, as it appeared to me. Judge 
Jackson then drew a sword from his cane, which I then 
supposed, by the judge's not advancing immediately, was 
only intended as a defensive preparation against any weapon 
which Mr. JIaclin should proeure to return the assault 
with. Mr. Maclin, in his apparent search of a weapon, 
discovered and took up a brick-bat, which he threw at 
the judge with such violence as I believe any other person 
would have done in a similar case. The bat was fended off 
by the judge's left hand. BIr. Maclin then ran off, and 
the judge, taking his sword in his left hand and the scab- 
bard part in his right, ran after him a few yards and then 
threw the scabbard with violence after Mr. Maclin, which, 
I believe, hit him. Mr. Maclin then caught up another 
brick-bat, but whether he threw it or not I cannot recol- 

" At tliis period Mr. Maclin was on one side of Judge 
Talbott's kitchen and the judge on the other. Some ex- 
pressions of heat took place at this time which I cannot 
recollect, but I remember that Mr. Maclin charged the 
judge with drawing upon him as a naked man. This 
charge was as persistently denied by the judge as being 
with any view of attacking him unarmed. I believe Blr. 
Maclin thought his charge well grounded, but I, as a by- 
stander, and fully convinced from the manner in which 
that circumstance took place, and the conduct of the judge 
after the sword was drawn, that it was merely in defense, 
and this opinion I am the more fully convinced of from 
two circumstances : first, the judge not pursuing Mr. Blae- 
lin with the drawn sword when he appeared to be, and I 
feel sure was, in dread of such a weapon ; the other is the 
judge's changing the sword and taking the sheath or scab- 
bard part of the cane in his right hand before he even 
pursued Mr. Maclin. 

" Given under my hand this 8th day of November, 

" H. Tatum." 



The spectacle of a judge of the " Superior Court of Law 
and Equity" crossing liis sword witli flying '' Briuk Eatts," 
in a Icitciu'u yard, about an anonymous newspaper article, 
must have been edifying indeed! But the judge as un- 
dauntedly faced far more dangerous missiles, in a less in- 
glorious warfare, before a dozen years had elapsed. 

Gen. Jackson was as tenacious of the last word as he 
was at the final blow. Through his friend, W. D. Ander- 
son, Esq., he replied at length, in the same paper, to the 
communication made in Governor Sevier's behalf. There 
is little in it of interest beyond a summary of the facts 
(with sarcastic comments) which I have already related in 

The charge against Governor Sevier of complicity with 
the North Carolina land-frauds was disproved, or at least so 
explained that it did not prevent his re-election. He sub- 
sequently served as a Representative in Congress, and was 
a member of that body at the time of (he battle of New 
Orleans. On the receipt of the news at Washington he 
wrote thus to one of his sons : 

" The Orleans mail has arrived with the news of Jack- 
son's success in repulsing the enemy, which has occasioned 
much rejoicing in this place; and we have received as many 
congratulations as though we had been in the action. . . . 
Our army from Tennessee is more talked of than half the 
world besides." 

A curious commentary upon Gen. Jackson's judicial 
career, and the character of the people with whom he was 
so prominently identified, is suggested by the fact that 
although it was known that while holding his court he had 
challenged the Governor of the State, and that a duel be- 
tween them was imminent, he found time between the dis- 
charge of his official duties and the attention necessary to 
be given to an " affair of honor" to write the annexed re- 
spouse to an address, numerously signed, from members of 
the Legislature, remonstrating against his declared inten- 
tion to resign his seat upon the bench : 

" K.N-O.KVILLE, Oct. 7, 1803. 

"Gen. George Rutledge and Col. John Tipton. 

" Genxlejien, — The address presented to mo of the 
5th instant by you, for and on behalf of yourselves and 
others of your honorable body subscribers to the same, ex- 
pressive of entire confidence (in me) and approbation of 
my official acts, is truly pleasing and grateful to me, — and 
permit me through you to reply, that next to an approving 
conscience is the approbation of my country, — but partic- 
ularly gratifying when that entire confidence and approba- 
tion is expressed by the representatives of a free people, 
chosen by the free suffrages of their fellow-citizens, and 
selected for their patriotism, wisdom, and virtues. 

" True it was, that long since I had come to a determina- 
tion to resign my seat in the judiciary and retire to domestic 
ease, there to regain my health and repair a broken consti- 
tution. This resolution I thought was unalterable, but 
being warned by you that from my continuance in ofiice 
under existing circumstances public good might result, I 
abandon for the present my resolution and obey the call of 
so respectable a part of my fellow-citizens, as the dictates 
of duty to a grateful country. 

" Retirement to private life has been for some time to 
me a very desirable event, and the present period at which 
I intended to retire anxiously waited for. But you have 
said my further services as a judge would be useful. When 
my services are thus called for they belong to my country, 
and your voice is obeyed. I shall continue to hold the 
office for the space of two years longer, if health will per- 
mit me to perform the duties thereof, during which period 
of time I shall endeavor to merit a continuation of your 
approbation and coufidence and that of our common coun- 
try, the greatest and highest reward to a virtuous and 
grateful mind. 

" Accept, gentlemen, yourselves, and present to the 
honorable body you represent, assurances of my high 
consideration and respect. 

" Andrew Jackson." 

He did not serve two years longer, as he proposed, his 
health continuing to fail and his position becoming daily 
more irksome and embarrassing. He resigned in July, 
1804, and never held civil employment again until his ap- 
pointment as Governor of Florida in 1821. 

Two and a half years after the occurrences I have nar- 
rated, Mr. Charles Dickinson fell at the hands of Gen. 
Jackson in a duel for the same offense that he so persist- 
ently sought a meeting with Governor Sevier, although its 
immediate occasion was difl'erently assigned. Dickinson 
had spoken disrespectfully of Mrs. Jackson. 


The duel between Gen. Jackson and Mr. Charles Dick- 
inson occurred in 1806. The newspapers of that date are 
full of the correspondence. Mr. Dickinson was a -young 
lawyer residing in Nashville, respectably connected, but 
somewhat dissipated in his habits. He was a son-in-law of 
Capt. Joseph Erwin. The quarrel between them arose 
from some disparaging remarks made by Dickinson respect- 
ing Mrs. Jackson, which were repeated in a very insulting 
manner in the hearing of Mrs. Jackson herself at one of 
the races in Nashville. Of course the insult highly in- 
censed Gen. Jackson, but he was nevertheless anxious to 
avoid a personal difficulty, and to this end called upon Capt. 
Erwin and desired him to remonstrate with his son-in-law, 
as lie was confident Dickinson was urged on to this course 
by his enemies. It soon appeared that a man by the name 
of Thomas Swann, a young lawyer in Nashville, a Mary- 
lander by birth, as was also Dickinson, but lately from Vir- 
ginia, was making himself officious in the affair. Dickin- 
son and his father-in-law, Capt. Erwin, had matched 
" Plough-Boy" against Gen. Jackson's famous horse "Tru.x- 
ton" in a stake of two thousand dollars, with a forfeit of 
ei"ht hundred dollars, and had lost the race. The stake 
and forfeit were to be paid in cash notes on the days of the 
race. The backers of " Plough-Boy" paid the forfeit, but 
it was reported that the notes in which the forfeit was paid 
were different from those specified in the articles of the 
race. Swann made himself busy in circulating the story, 
and in giving Gen. Jackson as his authority. Gen. Jack- 
son, on hearing it, denounced Swann to Dickinson as a 
" d d liar." Swann demanded an apology. " The 



harshness of the expression," he wrote to the general, " has 
deeply wounded my feelings. It is language to which I 
am a stranger, which no man who is acquainted with my 
character would venture to apply to me, and which, should 
the information of Mr. Dickinson be correct, I shall be 
under the necessity of taking proper notice of" 

General acknowledged the receipt of the letter, and 
answered as follows : 

" Was it not," he replied, " for the attention due a stranger, 
taking into view its tenor and style, I should not notice it. 
Had the information you have received from Mr. Dickinson 
stated a direct application of harsh language to yoii ; had 
not Mr. Dickinson been applied to by me to bring you for- 
ward when your name was mentioned, which he declined ; 
had I not the next morning had a conversation with you on 
the same subject ; and, lastly, did not your letter hold forth 
a threat of ' proper notice,' — I should give your letter a di- 
rect answer. ... I never wantonly sport with the feelings 
of innocence, nor am I ever awed into measures. If in- 
cautiously I inflict a wound, I always hasten to remove it ; 
if offense is taken where none is ofiered or intended, it gives 
me no pain. If a tale is listened to many daj'S after the 
discourse should have taken place, I always leave the 
person to judge of the motives that induced the informa- 
tion, and leave them to draw their own conclusions and 
act accordingly. There are certain traits that always ac- 
company the gentleman and man of truth. The moment 
he hears harsh expressions applied to a friend he will im- 
mediately communicate it that explanation may take place, 
when the base poltroon and coward li/ tale-bearer will always 
act in the hachgroitnd. You can apply the latter to Mr. 
Dickinson. I write it for his eye and emphatically intend 
it for him. . . . When the conversation dropped between 
Mr. Dickinson and myself I thought it was at an end. As 
he wishes to blow the coal, I am ready to light it to a blaze 
that it may be consumed at once and finally extinguished. 
Mr. Dickinson has given you the information, the subject of 
your letter. In return, and in justice to him, I request 
you to show him this. I set out this morning for South- 
west Point. I will return at a short day, and at all times 
I hold myself answerable for any of my conduct ; and 
should anything herein contained give Mr. Dickinson the 
spleen, I will furnish him with an anodyne as soon as I 

This letter brought about an interview between the gen- 
eral and Swann. An angry conversation was had. Swann 
expressed his determination to have " satisfaction." The 
general answered that if he (Swann) challenged him he 
would cane him. Swann retorted that if he attempted to 
do that he would instantly kiU him. The challenge was 
duly sent. It is a unique sample of dueling literature. 
" Think not," is the text of the cartel, "that I am to be 
intimidated by your threats. No power terrestrial shall 
prevent the settled purpose of my soul. The statement I 
have made in respect to the notes is substantially correct. 
The torrent of abusive language with which you have as- 
sailed me is such as every gentleman should blush to 
hear. Your menace I set at defiance ; and I now demand 
of you that reparation which one gentleman is entitled 
to receive from another. My friend, the bearer of this, 

is authorized to make complete arrangements in the field 
of honor." 

Gen. Jackson kept his word and publicly caned Mr. 
Swann, nor did he suffer the instant death of which he 
was admonished for that performance. 

The letter to Swann, so pointedly and severely alluding 
to Dickinson as instigating the former in his course, was 
duly shown to the latter, as Jackson had requested. He 
immediately wrote the general, reviewing the whole con- 
troversy, and acquitting himself of any blame or responsi- 
bility in the matter. His letter concluded as follows : " As 
to the word coicard, I think it as applicable to yourself as 
any one I know, and I shall be very glad when an opportu- 
nity serves to know in what manner you give your ano- 
dynes, and I hope you will take payment in one of my 
most moderate cathartics." 

The terms of the meeting between Gen. Jackson and 
Mr. Dickinson were : Distance, eight paces, or twenty-four 
feet ; the parties to stand facing each other, with their 
pistols held perpendicularly downwards ; when " ready," 
the single word " fire" to be given ; they were then to fire 
as they pleased ; but should either do so before the word, 
the seconds were pledged to shoot him down. 

Jackson and his friend. Gen. Thomas Overton, had re- 
flected very gravely over these conditions, and had decided 
to receive Dickinson's fire first. They relied, as Jackson's 
only chance for safety, upon the remarkable thinness of his 
person, which was unknown to his antagonist, and a loosely- 
fitting coat that tended still further to deceive the accu- 
racy of Dickinson's aim, for the latter declared and, it is 
said, wagered that he would hit Jackson near a certain 
button, at a spot directly over his heart. Jackson heard 
and believed this. 

The men were placed in position and the word given. 
Dickinson fired instantly, and precisely where he had every 
reason to suppose Jackson's heart to be, but missed. His 
bullet struck the breast-bone and broke two of the general's 
ribs, but failed to bring him down. " Erect and grim as 
fate he stood," says Parton, " his teeth clenched, raising his 
pistol. Overton glanced at Dickinson. Amazed at the un- 
wonted failure of his aim, and apparently appalled at the 
awful figure and face before him, he had unconsciously 
recoiled a pace or two. . . . ' Back to the mark, sir,' he 
shrieked, with his hand upon his pistol. Dickinson recov- 
ered his composure, stepped forward to the peg, and stood 
with his eyes averted from his antagonist. . . . Gen. Jack- 
son took deliberate aim and pulled the trigger. The pistol 
neither snapped nor went off. He looked at the trigger, 
and discovered that it had stopped at half-cock. He drew 
it back to its place and took aim a second time. He fired. 
Dickinson's face blanched ; ho reeled ; his friends rushed 
towards him, caught him in their arms, and gently seated 
him on the ground, leaning against a bush. His trousers 
reddened. They stripped off his clothes. The blood was 
gushing from his side in a torrent. And, alas ! here is the 
ball, but above the opposite hip, just under the skin. It 
had passed through the body just below the ribs." 

The general and his friends immediately left the field, 
and repaired to the house where he had spent the previous 
night. Here his wound was carefully dressed. Dickinson 



survived for twenty hours, and died in great agony. Jack- 
son's injury was more serious tlian he liad apprehended, 
and on his return home it confined him to the house for a 
fortnight. It fiilsely healed, and gave him trouble as long 
as he lived. The hemorrhages from the lungs, which sev- 
eral times during his life reduced him to death's door, were 
the effects of Dickinson's bullet. In the opinion of his 
physicians, it finally killed him, although he lived to an 
advanced age. 

The father-in-law of Dickinson, Capt. Erwin, charged 
Gen. Jackson with unfairness in recocking his pistol after 
its failures to go ofifin the first attemptJo fire. He claimed 
that there was a " snap," which should have been consid- 
ered a " fire." The charge was repeated by Dickinson's 
friends, and much exasperated the general. The seconds 
of the parties. Gen. Overton and Dr. Catlett, united in 
a card certifying that " every circumstance in the affair was 
agreeable to the impressions" themselves and their prin- 
ciples " were under." General Jackson procured several 
additional certificates to the same effect. Mr. George Kid- 
ley, a highly respectable citizen of Tennessee, stated that a 
few days after the duel he met with Mr. Corben Lee, a 
friend of Dickinson, who was present on the ground and 
with him when he expired. In talking of the affair, Mr. 
Lee admitted that Gen. Jackson " behaved with a great 
deal of honor on the occasion, for which he should always 
respect him." Capt. Blorrison, in 182-1, certified that 
subsequent to the duel Dr. Catlett— Dickinson's second — 
descended the river with him ; that during the passage 
down the river he frequently conversed with him upon the 
subject of the duel. " He gave me," he says, " a detailed 
account of the rise, pi'ogress, and fatal termination of the 
dispute, and uniformly declared to me that the fight was 
fairly and honorably conducted. . . . On no occasion did 
he ever give a different version of the affair. ... I was also 
acquainted with Gen. Overton, the friend of Gen. Jackson 
on the occasion. Not long before his death I called to see him 
and found him ill in bed. In the course of conversation 
he mentioned the duel between Gen. Jackson and Dickin- 
son and the various rumors that had been put in circula- 
tion. He spoke particularly in reference to a report that 
Gen. Jackson had snapped his pistol at Dickinson, and 
pronounced it with much vehemence, rising up in his bed 
when he spoke, a positive falsehood, and affirmed most 
solemnly that the affair was honorably conducted, no unfair 
advantage having been taken, or sought to be taken, by 
Gen. Jackson." 

Sir. Edward Ward certified " to the world, and particu- 
larly to all whom it may concern," that he had for twenty 
years lived a near neighbor of Gen. Jackson and of Gen. 
Thomas Overton until the death of the latter ; that they were 
in the habits of friendship and neighborly intercourse, and 
never were more so than about the time of the duel ; that 
Gen. Overton had soon after its occurrence, while visiting 
his house, minutely described it to him. He represented 
Gen. Jackson as having acted with cool deliberation and 
with the utmost propriety. Not one word did he hear from 
him about the snapping of the general's pistol. He stated 
that Dickinson fired very quickly when the word was 
given, and that Gen. Jackson immediately after the fire 

crossed his breast with his left arm and hand (being 
wounded through the lung), leveled his pistol, and fired. 

A like statement was also made by Gen. Coffee and 
Maj. Purdy, which completed the general's exoneration 
from the imputation of unfairness. 

Some admonitory letters were at this time written to 
Gen. Jackson by his friends. Col. W. P. Anderson, after- 
wards a member of his military staff', and whose resignation 
made room for the appointment of Col. Thomas H. Benton, 
wrote him under date of Nashville, June 13, 1806: 

" General Jackson : My dearest friend : Had you not 
better send out after Doctor Dickson to-morrow when you 
come here, to the end that he may be present at some of 
your intended interviews? Such men as he, Dan. McGa- 
vock Randall, Capt. Ward, Thos. Stewart, Capt. Colemain, 
and Robt. White ought also to be in hearing. For God's 
sake, my dear friend, use no hot or rash measures ! I well 
know you can, when necessary, govern yourself into calm- 
ness and cool deliberation. Now is the time for you to do 
so. You see it is improper for you to challenge any of 
those people, or persecutors of yours. You are tied down 
to defensive measures alone. Some of them would not be 
too good to prosecute you at law. There is one of this 
lamentable group, T. S. [Swann evidently], that you ought 
not to notice more than the meanest reptile that crawls on 
the ground. 

" It was indispensably necessary from your situation and 
difference with this and that rascal that you [should] fight. 
You have done so, and the champion and man of highest 
and best standing among them has fallen. Be it so. Your 
course is plain. Do get yr friends together & advise with 
them. This is right particularly as seeking a fight with 
anybody ; but only to defend yr honor & feelings, and to 
vindicate principle." 

Judge Overton wrote from Jonesboro', Sept. 12, 1806 : 

" De.\R General, — This day week a report arrived 
here that you and Swann had fought ; that both fell, Swann 
shot through the heart, of which he died in six minutes, and 
you through the head, from which instant death ensued. 

" Though I did not believe it, great uneasiness arose, 
knowing the rascals' conspiracy, of which Swann is a part. 
You have several warm friends here, and if you knew the 
uneasiness they suffered and their impressions, I am sure it 
would have some effect. Not only on this occasion, but 
before, the opinion of your sensible friends, of whom you 
have many, was unanimously that notldng can justify your 
fighting Sicann or any of the j^ioneers of this dirty hand. 

" I do not know that there is much danger of any of 
these flies infesting you — through fear tho' — yet their will 
is good, and this you may in a measure know, from the re- 
ports that are industriously circulated. I repeat it again. 
General, the respect you owe to the opinion of your friends, 
the duties you owe to your family, and to the world, forbid 
the idea of your putting yourself upon a footing with boys, 
especially when they are made the instruments of others. 
To use an Irish bull, if it was me I should to eternity feel 
mean to be killed by one of these puppies. Your friends 
would have to lament your loss, though not able to justify 
the occasion of it. 



" No man, not even your worst enemies, doubt your per- 
sonal courage, and you would gain much more by not no- 
ticing anything that these people may say, than otherwise. 
Be assured that their slander can do you no harm among 
your friends. 

" These observations, you know, come from a friend who 
has not only thought maturely upon the subject, but one 
who has consulted the feelings and opinions of many judi- 
cious men of honor. Should you be assaulted by any of 
the younger or inferior gang, repel it with a stick, &c. 
Those of stability and standing in society you will call upon, 
should proper occasion occur, in a proper manner. But 
never, never, my dear sir, hart the feelings of your friends 
by putting yourself on a level with loi/s, inslninients — mere 
tools of others, doing yourself no honor, perhaps losing j'our 
life with one of them ; and their enmity is bitter enough 
to even hire it done, if they could get hands. Besides the 
mortification of your friends, you might in this way deprive 
yourself of that life which ought to be preserved for better 
purposes, among which is the chance (upon some proper 
occasion, which hereafter, by patience, may come) of chas- 
tising in a proper manner the prompters behind the curtain. 

" Should any diflBculty arise, may I ask you as a friend, 
before you do anything, to consult your friends ? Patience, 
deliberation and courage, will surmount all difficulties. 

" I am, yr. friend, Jno : OvERTON. 

"Ge.v'l Jackson." 

The venerable Gen. Robertson also wrote Gen. Jackson 
a very sensible letter, which no doubt had a strong influ- 
ence in checking the impetuosity of his temper and bring- 
ing him to more calm and sober reflection on the subject of 
dueling. Public opinion generally turned in his favor as 
the hidden facts of the aff;ur came to light; and although 
the better portion of the community' could not but condemn 
the morality of his conduct, yet all admired the unexam- 
pled nerve he had exhibited in the duel, and when this 
quality had opportunity for its legitimate and proper dis- 
play in the defense of his country, as the leader of one of 
its armies, criticism ceased, and he became, and remained 
until death, the idol of his fellow-citizens. 

It was a peculiarity of General Jackson that he rarely 
alluded to his personal difficulties when once settled. In 
all his intimacy with Amos Kendall he never but once re- 
ferred to his duel with Dickinson, and that was after he had 
retired from the Presidency, when he mentioned in a letter 
that he would send him the correspondence relating to it, 
to aid in the preparation of his biography, upon which 
Kendall was engaged. He was equally reserved with the 
elder Blair, another of his closest friends. It became, 
through some circumstance, a topic of conversation between 
them on one occasion. Jackson dismissed it with the single 
remark that he would have killed Dickinson had he (Dick- 
inson) shot him through the brain. 

The editor of the " Jackson Papers," recently published 
in the Cincinnati Commercial, says, — 

" I have felt some curiosity in inquiring into the history 
of this matter to learn the fate of Swann, whose luckless 
intermeddling with Jackson's and Dickinson'saffairs brought 
the duel about. In response to inquiries recently addressed 

to Col. Willoughby Williams, of Arkansas, I have been fur^ ' 
nished with the following information. It; is written from I 
Nashville : 

" ' Mr. Swann must have left Nashville about the year 
1809, which was the year of my first visit to Nashville, as 
I knew but little of him after that time. Mr. Charles 
Dickinson came from the Eastern Shore of Maryland, and 
I think Mr. Swann came from the same county. Mr. Isaac 
Erwin, the brother-in-law of Charles Dickinson, and myself, 
married daughters of Captain John Nichols, who was a 
friend of Dickinson in that unfortunate affiiir. 

" ' I have often been at the grave of Mr. Dickinson, and 
was present fifty years ago when his son had it inclosed 
with a cedar fence. I was there on yesterday and found 
the tomb, which is made of stone used at that day for such 
purposes. The tomb is made of side and end stone about 
three feet high, and a large stone slab on the top. There 
is no inscription on it. It stands as square and perfect as 
when placed there. A grove of trees has grown up around 
it. No other grave is near. It is in an open lot near a 
large spring on the farm owned at that time by Captain Jo- 
seph Erwin, the father-in-law of Dickinson.' 

" Mr. Samuel D. Morgan, who incloses me this letter, 
adds : ' I know nothing personally of the duel, as I was at 
the time a mere child. I was, when a school-boy, quite in- 
timate in General Jackson's family, but in all the time I 
am sure I never heard him make the slightest allusion to 
this or any other of his quarrelsome aflfairs.' " 



How He was Nominated for the Presidency — Major Lewis' Narrativ:e 
— Tlie Great Race of 1S24 — J.ackson'd Defeat with a Large Plural- 
ity — Ilis Election in 182S — Death of Mrs. Jackson — Characteris- 
tics of His Groat Statesmanship — Second Election and Administra- 
tion — Fae-Simile of His "Writing — His Character and Abilities — 
His Last Hours — His Death — Monuments at the Hermitage. 

The manner in which Gen. Jackson was nominated for 
the Presidency is related by Maj. William B. Lewis, one 
of the chief actors in the events which he describes. The 
matter will be of especial interest to the people of this 
county, inasmuch as Maj. Lewis was a prominent and well- 
known citizen, a life-long friend of Gen. Jackson's, and his 
most confidential adviser in all his domestic and political 
aifairs. Maj. Lewis was a gentleman of leisure, residing 
on a fine estate between Nashville and the Hermitage. His 
house was the place at which the particular friends of Gen. 
Jackson, and often the general himself, were accustomed to 
meet and hold those political councils out of which grew 
the series of events resulting in Jackson's election to the 
Senate in 1823, and to the Presidency in 1828. The de- 
votion of Maj. Lewis to Gen. Jackson appears to have 
been untainted by any motives of emolument or self-inter- 
est, he being a man of fortune and personally modest and 



unaspirinii;. Tlie labor whicli he devoted tlirougb many 
years to the one object of securing Gen. Jackson's election 
was a labor of love, and was inspired by a strong desire to see 
his great friend honored by the highest place in the gift of a 
grateful nation, which he had so richly merited by his emi- 
nent and patriotic services to his country. When this ob- 
ject was accomplished, Maj. Lewis accompanied Gen. Jack- 
son to Washington, and lived with him in his private 
apartments in the Presidential mansion. Maj. Lewis relates 
as follows the indubitable events as they occurred under his 
own eye, and many of them at his own suggestion : 


" When Gen. Jackson was fighting the battles of his 
country and acquiring for himself and it imperishable 
glory, he never once thought, as I verily believe, of reach- 
I ing the Presidency. He did not dream of such a thing. 
The idea never entered his imagination. All he aimed at 
or desired at the time was military renown acquired by pa- 
triotic services. This he prized far above all civil fame, and 
docs now, if I know anything of the feelings of his heart. 
He was naturally and essentially a military man, — full of 
ardor, of indomitable courage ; possessing the rare quality 
of inspiring every man about iiim with feelings as enthu- 
siastic and dauntless as his own ; quick to conceive and as 
prompt to execute ; vigilant and of untiring industry ; and, 
in addition to all these high and noble qualities, ho was 
endowed with a sound judgment and discriminating mind. 
In fact, he had all the requisites of a great military com- 
mander, and, with the same theatre to act upon, he would 
not, in my opinion, have been inferior to any of the great 
of either ancient or modern times. This you may consider 
extravagant, but I assure you I do firmly and conscien- 
tiously believe that by nature he was not, as a military 
man, inferior to either Alexander, Julius Cffisar, or Napo- 
leon Bonaparte, and, had he occupied the place of either 
under like circumstances, would not have been less success- 
ful or distinguished. 

" With these feelings and views, thirsting for military 
fame, and ambitious of being distinguished as a great com- 
mander, is at unreasonable to suppose that civil honors were 
but little coveted or cared for by him ? No, my friend. He 
did not even dream of the high civic destiny that awaited 
him, and which was to be the crowning glory of his life and 
character. The first suggestion of that sort came from 
Kentucky, and was made in the summer of 1815 by an 
officer who was under his command and assisted in the de- 
fense of New Orleans. (Mr. Edward Livingston, too, 
about this time suggested the same thing.) The letter of 
this ofiicer was addressed to a third person, a mutual friend, 
who inclosed it to Gen. Jackson, as was undoubtedly ex- 
pected by the writer. In this letter it was proposed that 
he should be forthwith brought out as a candidate ; but 
the general laughed at the idea, and returning the letter to 
his friend, begged that nothing further might either be said 
or done in relation to the matter. The proposition was too 
absurd, he said, to be entertained for a moment. In fact, 
nothing further was thought or said, as I believe, upon the 
subject of his being a candidate, until about the close of Mr. 
Monroe's first term. Thus began and thus ended the first 

movement in favor of bringing out Gen. Jackson for the 
Presidency. Col. Burr, I am well assured, had no agency in 
this, for it occurred some three months before the date of his 
letter to Governor Alston ; nor was it put in motion by any 
combination of militant Federalists and anti-Jefl'ersonians. 

" As long as Gen. Jackson remained in the military ser- 
vice of the country, little was said about bringing him out 
for the Presidency. Having been appointed Governor of 
Florida by the President of the United States, he resigned 
his commission in the army about the 1st of June, 1821, 
and repaired forthwith to Pensacola, to receive the Territory 
from the Spanish authorities. After organizing a Territorial 
government and putting it in operation, he withdrew from 
all public employment and returned to Tennessee, where 
he expected to spend the rest of his life as a private 
citizen. Nor, indeed, was it believed by his friends that 
they would be blest with his society very long, as his health 
was at that time, and had been for six or seven years pre- 
vious, very feeble, and his constitution apparently exhausted 
and broken down. No .sooner, however, had he become a 
private citizen, and had set himself down once more upon 
his own beautiful estate, the Hermitage, than the eyes of 
his fellow-citizens were turned towards him, as having emi- 
nently entitled himself, by his brilliant and patriotic zervices, 
to the highest honors within the gift of a free and enlight- 
ened people. 

" In Tennessee, and particularly at Nashville, his friends 
began now to speak of him as a candidate, and in good 
earnest to take the necessary steps to place his name promi- 
nently before the country. It is true that some four or five 
candidates were already in the field ; but so confident were 
they of Gen. Jackson's strength and popularity with the 
people, on account of his great public services, that they 
had no fear for the result. Tbey not only, therefore, began 
to speak out upon the subject, but to make their wishes 
and intentions known through the public journals. The 
first demonstration of this latter method of supporting him 
was made in January, 1822, in one of the Nashville papers. 
Soon afterwards the editor of the Nashville Gazette, Col. 
Wilson, took the field openly and boldly for the general as 
his candidate for the Presidency. The proposition was 
cordially responded to by the people of Tennessee, and was 
also well received in other States, particularly so in tlio 
Democratic and patriotic State of Penn.sylvania. The in- 
quiry now was. In what way shall his name be presented to 
the nation? The most imposing manner of bringing him 
forward and presenting him to the other States of the 
Union, it was finally agreed, would be by the Legislature 
of his own State. This would not only give weight to the 
nomination, it was believed, but would show to the whole 
country that we were in earnest. It was determined, there- 
fore, that the necessary steps should be taken to bring him 
forward at the next session of the Legislature. 

" In these preliminary movements, it appears to me, you 
will be scarcely able to perceive any agency either on the 
part of Col. Burr or the ' militant Federalists,' of whom 
so much is said. Nor had the officers of the army, whom 
he also represents as taking an active and leading part, any- 
thing to do with them. The truth is, they were the vol- 
untary and spontaneous acts of his Tennessee friends, 



without the suggestions or promptings of any person or 
persons outside of the State. 

"About this time, spring of 1822, I left home on a 
visit to North Carolina to see the family of my fother-in- 
law, Governor Montfort Stokes, who was then a senator of 
Congress. The Governor had always belonged to the 
Democratic party, and was one of its prominent and most 
influential leaders. His friendship and political support 
were, therefore, considered a matter of importance by those 
who were seeking favors at the hands of the people. What 
were his predilections at that time in relation to the Presi- 
dential aspirants I know not ; but, as you may well sup- 
pose, I felt anxious to enlist him on the side of Gen. 
Jackson. He had not returned from Washington at the 
time I reached his residence, but arrived soon afterwards. 
During my continuance at his house I had frequent con- 
versations with hira upon political subjects, and found him 
a warm personal friend and admirer of Gen. Jackson ; but 
he gave not the slightest intimation that he preferred him 
for the Presidency. This occasioned mo some uneasiness, 
for I thought it a matter of very great importance, as it 
regarded the general's success in North Carolina, that he 
should have the support of the Governor. I determined, 
therefore, to have a full and frank conversation with him 
before I left upon the subject, and it was not long before I 
had an opportunity of doing so, and learning his opinion 
and views without reserve. He frankly remarked to me 
that so little had as yet been said about Gen. Jackson as a 
candidate, he had not supposed it was seriously intended 
to run him, and asked me if such was really the intention 
of his friends. 

"' Uiidouhfedli/,^ 1 repVied, and added that the Legisla- 
ture of Tennessee would certainly nominate him at the 
nest session. 

" ' What support do his friends expect him to get,' he 
inquired, ' if nominated ?' 

" I answered, ' They expect him to be supported by the 
toliole country.' 

" ' Then,' he ficetiously replied, ' he will certainly be 

" Assuming then a graver air and tone, he said to me 
that he had known Gen. Jackson from boyhood, he having 
read law with his brother when quite a youth, and that 
there was no living man he so much admired ; but being 
already committed to the support of Mr. Calhoun, he could 
not advocate his election. This was very unwelcome news 
to me, bat I cannot say that it was altogether unexpected, 
for I was led to anticipate something of the sort from his 
silence as regarded his preference in my previous conversa- 
tion with him. 

" I then remarked, ' But suppose Mr. Calhoun should 
not be a candidate, cannot you support the general as your 
next choice ?' 

" ' Yes,' he promptly replied, ' with great pleasure,' but 
added that, at the same time, he had no reason to believe 
that anything could or would occur to prevent his being a 

" Under such circumstances this was all I had a right to 
expect or ask, and I parted with the Governor, when about 
to leave for Tennessee, fully satisfied that, in case Mr. Cal- 

houn should not be a candidate, he would go for Gen. ! 
Jackson. In this I was not mistaken. The moment Mr. 
Calhoun was withdrawn by his Pennsylvania friends the ' 
Governor rallied upon the general, and supported him with ' 
great energy and zeal. Having now the support of both Gen. 
Polk and Governor Stokes, the two leaders, I may say, of 
the Federal and Democratic parties in North Carolina, his 
friends became confident of being able to carry the State 
for him. They were not mistaken ; its vote was given to 
him by a large majority. 

" I returned to Nashville about the 1st of June, and 
found the friends of the general in high spirits and san- 
guine of success. Indeed, this feeling was not confined to 
Nashville ; it pervaded the whole State. Under this state 
of things the Legislature met, and in a few days thereafter, 
the 20th of July, 1822, adopted a preamble and resolutions 
which placed the general before the country as a legitimate 
candidate for the Presidency. Being now formally nomi- 
nated, his friends in every part of the Union entered into 
the contest with increased vigor and energy. But few of 
the Federalists, however, took part in it till after the pub- 
lication in May, 1824, of the general's celebrated letters to 
Mr. Monroe. Indeed, but few of them, or any, knew of 
their existence until then, although they, it has been alleged, 
had won their hearts as early as 1815. I should, however, 
except Gen. William Polk, to whom I showed the letter of 
the 12th of November, 1816, in the autumn of 1823, and 
perhaps John Quincy Adams also, to whom Mr. Monroe, I 
have no doubt, showed both letters, which accounts, to my 
mind at least, for his having sustained the general in his 
Seminole campaign with so much ability and zeal in his 
dispatch to our minister at Madrid. 

" The general being now fairly out as a candidate, it was 
considered indispensable, in order to make his success the 
more certain, that the Congressional caucus should be broken 
down. This was an engine of great political power, and 
had been used by the politicians of the country for twenty 
years in manufacturing Presidents, and unless it could be 
destroyed it would be difficult to overcome its influence 
upon those who had long looked upon its nominees as the 
only legitimate party candidates. With a view, to accom- 
plish this object. Judges Overton and Hay wood, both able and 
distinguished lawyers, opened a heavy and effective fire upon 
it in a series of well-written numbers which were published 
in the Nashville papers. These, with the attacks made 
upon it in other quarters, added to Gen. Jackson's great 
personal popularity, contributed greatly, doubtless, to the 
overthrow of that renowned personage ' King Caucus,' as 
it was then derisively called. It is true he mounted his 
throne again in the winter of 1823-24, and nominated as 
Jlr. Monroe's successor William H. Crawford ; but His 
Majesty had become powerless, and his nominee, for the 
first time, was badly beaten. This was the last time he 
ascended the throne, having died soon after of the wounds 
he received in the campaign of 1824, and has never been 
heard of since. Not even his ghost made its appearance 
in the campaign of 1828. It strikes me that you will be 
equally at a loss to perceive in all this any agency either of 
Col. Burr, his militant Federalists, or anti-Jeffersonians. 

" As Tennessee was almost unanimous for Gen. Jackson, 



it might have been supposed that his friends would have 
had little or no trouble in that State after his nomination. 
Such, however, was not the fact. Col. John Williams had 
been a senator from our State in Congress for eight 3'ears, 
and as his term of service would expire on the 3d of March, 
1823, the Legislature, which met in October of that year, 
had to elect a new senator. Col. Williams was a candidate 
for re-election, but being a personal and political enemy of 
Gen. Jackson, it was determined, if possible, to defeat him 
unless he would pledge himself to the support of tlie general 
for the Presidency. This he refused to do, having already 
engaged to support Jlr. Crawford. The general's friends 
had no alternative left them but to beat him, and this was 
no easy task. East Tennessee claimed the senator, and the 
colonel was a great favorite with the people of that end of 
the State. Besides, with the view of strengthening him- 
self in other sections, soon after the elections in August 
were over, he mounted his horse and rode through the 
whole State, calling on the members-elect to the Legisla- 
ture, and obtaining promises from most of them to vote 
for him. They should not have thus committed themselves, 
but having done so the greater part of them were disposed 
to redeem their pledge, though admitting they had done 
wrong. The most devoted and zealous of the general's 
friends were determined, however, to leave no stone un- 
turned to defeat his election. Several persons were .spoken 
of as opposing candidates, but none of them could obtain, 
it was ascertained, the requisite number of votes. The 
general's old friend, Johnny Rhea, could come the nearest, 
but he lacked three votes. This was a very unpleasant 
state of things. To elect a bitter personal enemy of Gen. 
Jackson, and who was known to be in favor of Mr. Craw- 
ford for the Presidency, would have a most injurious effect, 
it was believed, upon his prospects. Notwithstanding he 
had been nominated by the Legislature some fifteen months 
before, it was apprehended, if an enemy of his should be 
sent to the Senate, it would be difficult to make the other 
States believe that Tennessee was in earnest in her support 
of him. It would certainly have the appearance of great 
inconsistency, and well calculated to nullify the effect of 
his nomination. 

" This could not be permitted, and it was resolved at all 
hazards to defeat the election of Col. Williams. It became 
necessary now to play a bold and decisive game. As no- 
body else could be found to beat the colonel, it was proposed 
to beat him with the general himseJf. This having been 
made known produced great uneasiness and alarm among 
the more timid members, from an apprehension that even 
he could not be elected, but Blr. Eaton and myself, who 
were on the ground, took upon ourselves the responsibility 
of the step, and insisted on his being nominated to the 
Legislature as a candidate for the Senate. We came to 
the conclusion that if the general must be politically sac- 
rificed it mattered little in what way it was done, whether 
in being defeated himself in the election of a United States 
senator, or by the election of his bitter enemy. But I had 
no fear of his being defeated. I did not believe it possible 
that a majority of the members would be willing to take 
upon themselves the responsibility of voting against him. 
He was accordingly nominated to the Legislature by Maj. 

Maney, a highly respectable member from Williamson 
County, and he was elected, as I had anticipated, by quite 
a large majority. Had he been beaten it might possibly 
have destroyed, or at least injured, his prospects for the 
Presidency, but it was believed that his defeat would not be 
more blasting in its effects than the election of Col. Wil- 
liams under all the circumstances of the case. 

" These are the reasons which induced the friends of 
Gen. Jackson to send him to the United States Senate in 
the winter of 1823-24, which was thought by many of his 
friends at the time to have been rash and impolitic. The 
general himself was far from desiring it, but there was no 
help for it, and he submitted with a good grace. He was 
a soldier, and knew how to obey as well as to command." 

And so Gen. Jackson was at once a senator and a candi- 
date for the Presidency. Only twenty-five members of the 
Legislature ventured to vote against him for the senator- 
ship ; and such was the power of his name in Tennessee 
that of the twenty-five but three were re-elected to the next 
Legislature. It is worthy of note that while Gen. Jack- 
son was in the Senate this time he voted for the abolition 
of imprisonment for debt. 

In the Presidential campaign of 1824 there were four 
candidates in the field, viz. : Gen. Jackson, William H. 
Crawford, of South Carolina, Henry Clay, of Kentucky, 
and John Quincy Adams, of Massachusetts. Gen. Jack- 
son was the gahiing candidate, and no doubt would have 
secured a clear majority had the canvass been prolonged a 
few weeks. He had the largest popular vote, the greatest 
number of electoral votes, and the vote of the greatest 
number of States. But there was no choice of President 
by the people. The election was carried into the House of 
Representatives, and through the influence of Mr. Clay 
was given to John Quincy Adams, Mr. Clay being made 
Secretary of State. 

This result, however, did not dampen the ardor of the 
friends of Gen. Jackson ; on the contrary, they saw in the 
splendid race which he had made the precursor of certain 
victory the next term. He resigned his place in the Senate 
and was welcomed home in the summer of 1825. In Oc- 
tober of the same year the Legislature renominated him, 
with only three dissenting voices. Louisiana, by her Legis- 
lature, invited him to New Orleans to attend the anniversary 
of his great victory of the 8th of January. His reception 
was the grandest ovation ever witnessed in the history of our 
country, and roused the enthusiasm of the entire South- 
west, while it awakened a new discussion of his merits and 
claims throughout all the other portions of the Union. 
The multitudes who were hurrahing for Jackson increased 
every day, but the tongue of slander was not silent. The 
partisans of Adams, and the opposition press generally, 
began to pour out vials of calumny, but his friends took 
good care that the false and base aspersions of his enemies 
should be promptly and fully answered. It was at this 
time that the celebrated committee of citizens of Davidson 
County, stigmatized by their opponents as the " White- 
washing Committee," was formed for the purpose of vindi- 
cating the character of Gen. Jackson, which was to be 
done by the publication of truth iu tlie place of falsehood 



and slander. The committee was organized at the house of 
Maj. William B. Lewis, and consisted of John Overton, 
Kobert C. Foster, George W. Campbell, William L. Brown, 
John Catron, Robert Whyte, Thomas Claiborne, Joseph 
Phillips, Daniel Graham, William B. Lewis, Jesse Whar- 
ton, Edward Ward, Alfred Balch, Felix Robertson, John 
Shelby, Josiah Nichol, William White, and John McNairy, 
— a cohort of the most intellectual and reputable men in 
Tennessee, pledged to fight falsehood and calumny by the 
publication of truth and facts, and by these weapons alone 
to conquel'. The committee successfully and triumphantly 
vindicated their candidate. At the election in 1828 he re- 
ceived one hundred and seventy-eight electoral votes to Blr. 
Adams' eighty-three. 

In the midst of this triumph, and while the people of 
Nashville were preparing for a grand celebration of the 
election of their favorite candidate, a shadow fell upon the 
Hermitage which was never lifted during Gen. Jackson's 


The circumstances of this sad event are related by 
Parton, who learned the story from " Old Hannah," the 
faithful servant of Mrs. Jackson, in whose arms she breathed 
her last : 

" Wednesday morning, December 17th, all was going on 
as usual at the Hermitage. The general was in the fields at 
some distance from the house, and Mrs. Jackson, apparently 
in tolerable health, was occupied in her household duties. 
Old Hannah asked her to come into the kitcheu to give her 
opinion upon some article of food that was ia course of 
preparation. She performed the duty required of her and 
returned to her usual sitting-room, followed by Hannah. 
Suddenly she uttered a horrible shriek, placed her hands 
upon her heart, sank into a chair struggling for breath, and 
fell forward into Hannah's arms. There were only servants 
in the house, many of whom ran frantically in, uttering the 
loud lamentations with which Africans are wont to give 
vent to their feelings. The stricken lady was placed upon 
her bed, and while messengers hurried away for assistance 
Hannah employed the only remedy she knew to relieve the 
anguish of her mistress. ' I rubbed her side,' said the 
plain-spoken Hannah, ' till it was black and blue.' 

"No relief She writhed in agony. She fought for 
breath. The general came in alarmed beyond description. 
The doctor arrived. Mrs. A. J. Donelson hurried in from 
her house near by. The Hermitage was soon filled with 
relatives, friends, and servants. With short intervals of 
partial relief, Blrs. Jackson coQtinued to suft'er all that a 
woman could sutfer for the space of sixty hours, during 
which her husband never left her bedside for ten minutes. 
On Friday evening she was much better ; was almost free 
from pain, and breathed with far less difficulty. The first 
use, and, indeed, the only use, she made of her recovered 
speech was to protest to the general that she was quite well, 
and to implore him to go to another room and sleep, and 
by no means to allow her indisposition to prevent his at- 
tending the banquet on the 23d. She told him that the 
day of the banquet would be a very fatiguing one, and he 
must not permit his strength to be reduced by want of 

" Still, the general would not leave her ; he distrusted 
this sudden relief He feared it was the relief of torpor 
or exhaustion, and the more as the remedies proscribed by 
Dr. Hogg, the attending physician, had not produced their 
desired effect. Saturday and Sunday passed, and still she 
lay free from serious pain, but weak and listless ; the gen- 
eral still her watchful, constant, almost sleepless attendant. 

" On Monday evening, the evening before the 23d, her 
disease appeared to take a decided turn for the better, and 
she then so earnestly entreated the general to prepare for 
the fatigues of the morrow by having a night of undis- 
turbed sleep that he consented, at last, to go into an ad- 
joining room and lie down upon a sofa. The doctor was 
still in the house. Hannah and George were to sit up with 
their mistress. 

" At nine o'clock the general bade her good-night, went 
into the next room, and took off his coat, preparatory to 
lying down. He had been gone about five minutes. Mrs. 
Jackson was then for the first time removed from her bed, 
that it might be rearranged for the- night. While sitting 
iu a chair, supported in the arms of Hannah, she uttered 
a long, loud, inarticulate cry, which was immediately fol- 
lowed by a rattling noise in the throat. Her head fell for- 
ward upon Hannah's shoulder. She never spoke nor 
breathed again. 

" There was a wild rush into the room of husband, 
doctor, relatives, friends, servants. The general assisted to 
lay her upon the bed. ' Bleed her,' he cried. No blood 
flowed from her arm. ' Try the temple, doctor.' Two 
drops stained her cap, but no more flowed. 

" It was long before he could believe her dead. He 
looked eagerly into her face, as if still expecting to see 
signs of returning life. Her hands and feet grew cold. 
There could be no doubt then, and they prepared a table 
for laying her out. Willi a choking voice the general 
said, — 

" ' Spread four blankets upon it. If she comes to, she 
will lie so hard upon the table.' 

" He sat all night long in the room by her side, with his 
face in his hands, ' grieving,' said Hannah, and occasionally 
looking into the face and feeling the heart and pulse of the 
form so dear to him. Maj. Lewis, who had been immedi- 
ately sent for, arrived just before daylight, and found him 
still there, nearly speechless and wholly inconsolable. He 
sat in the room nearly all the next day, the picture of de- 
spair. It was only with great difiiculty that he was per- 
suaded to take a little cofi'ee. 

" And this was the way," concluded Hannah, "that old 
mistus died ; and we always say that when we lost her, we 
lost a mistus and a mother, too ; and more a mother than a 
mistus. And we say the same of old master; for he was 
more a father to us than a master, and many's the time 
we've wished him back again, to help us out of our 

The news of the sad event reached Nashville on the 
morning of the 23d, while the committee were busily en- 
gaged in preparations for the general's reception. The day 
appointed for the banquet was turned into a day of mourn- 
ing. All business was suspended by proclamation of the 
mayor, and the church-bells were tolled from one to two 



o'clock, — tlic hour of her funeral. It was in tlic midst of 
such grief that the President-elect prepared for his inaugu- 
ration, and hastened away to Washington to enter upon an 
administration beset with peculiar difficulties. We shall 
not attempt to follow him through his career of four years 
in the Presidential chair. It is enough to say that his ad- 
ministration was entirely successful ; that he restored the gov- 
ernment to the principles of Jefferson ; that he stayed the cor- 
rupt and unconstitutional expenditure of the public money, 
designed for ioterual improvements ; that he waged war 
upon that gigantic and overshadowing monopoly, the Bank 
of the United States ; that on the tariff question he stood 
between the two dangerous extremes of free trade and pro- 
liibition, and counseled moderation and compromise; that, 
in less than two years from the beginning of his adminis- 
tration, the trade to the West Indies, which had been lost 
by former mismanagement, was again opened to the United 
States on terms of reciprocity ; that, within the same 
period, treaties of the utmost importance and difficulty were 
negotiated with Denmark, Turkey, and France; and that 
the disputed boundary on the Eastern frontier was adjusted 
on terms of advantage to the United States. All this pres- 
tige had the administration gained, and hence it was easy 
in 1832 to secure the popular acceptance of his nomination 
for a second term. The result, however, astonished every- 
body. Not the most enthusiastic Jackson man anticipated 
a victory quite so overwhelming. Two hundred and eighty- 
eight was the whole number of electoral votes cast. Gen. 
Jackson received iico Imndred and nineteen, — seventy-four 
more than a majority.^ Blr. Clay, his antagonist, received 
only furty-nine votes. 

The second administration was characterized by the same 
energy and success which had marked the first. Some of 
the President's great measures, which had been inaugurated 
during the first four years, were carried out and consum- 
mated. The war on the United States Bank ended in the 
destruction of that infamous institution ; nullification was 
put down ; the nation was restored to honor and credit 
abroad ; harmony and peace prevailed with all foreign na- 
tions, and universal plenty and prosperity reigned at home. 

Gen. Jackson was, beyond all question, the most self- 
reliant chief magistrate this nation ever had. He marked 
out his own policy, and often acted contrary to the advice 
of his nearest friends and that of his Cabinet, in the face 
of the most formidable difiSoulties. " I take the responsi- 
bility," was his short method of settling such differences. 
And usually his own judgment pi-oved the better guide 
than that of his advisers. 

Attempts have been made to belittle the education of 
Gen. Jackson, and some have gone so far as to pronounce 
him "ignorant and unlettered." The imputation is absurd 
and entirely unfounded. Learned he was not, in the sense 
of being erudite, but his mind was a fountain of fresh, orig- 
inal ideas and thoughts, which found clear, forcible, and 
vigorous expression in language fitting and appropriate to 
his subjects. He could not only write well and fluently, 
but rapidly. Few men have had command of a vocabulary 
more pungent and forcible, and few have possessed in a 
higher degree the fiiculty of making themselves clearly 

As an example of forcible and pungent rejoinder, we 
give a brief extract from Jackson's reply to an address of 
John Quincy Adams, delivered to the youth of Boston on 
the 7th of October, 184-1: 

" Who but a traitor to his country can appeal as Mr. 
Adams does to the youth of Boston in the close of his ad- 
dress ? ' Your trial is approaching. The spirit of freedom 
and the spirit of slavery are drawing together for the 
deadly conflict of arms. The annexation of Texas to this 
Union is the blast of the trumpet for a foreign, civil, ser- 
vile, and Indian war, of which the government of the 
United States, fallen into faithless hands, has already twice 
given the signal, — first, by a shameless treaty rejected by 
a virtuous Senate; and, again, by the glove of defiance 
hurled by the apostle of nullification at the avowed policy 
of the British empire peacefully to promote the extinction 
of slavery throughout the world. Young men of Boston, 
burnish your armor, prepare for the conflict; and I say to 
you, in the language of Galgacus to the ancient Britons, 
think of your forefathers, think of your posterity.' 

" What is this but delusion, or, what is worse, a direct 
appeal to arms to oppose the decision of the American 
people should it be favorable to the annexation of Texas to 
the United States ? 

" I may be blamed for spelling Mr. Erving's name 
wrong, but I trust I shall never deserve the shame of 
mistaking the path of duty where my country's rights are 
involved. I believed, from the disclosures made to me of 
the transactions of 1819, that Mr. Adams surrendered the 
interests of the United States when he took the Sabine 
River as the boundary between us and Spain, when he 
might have gone to the Colorado, if not to the Rio del 
Norte. Such was the natural inference from the facts 
stated by Mr. Erving ; and there is nothing in the account 
now given of the negotiation to alter this impression. The 
address, on the contrary, does not at all relieve Mr. Adams. 
It proves that he was then, as now, an alien to the true 
interests of his country ; but he had not then, as now, 
the pretext of co-operation with Great Britain in her 
peaceful endeavors to extinguish slavery throughout the 

" Is there an American patriot that can read the above 
extract, and other similar ones that may be taken from the 
address of this monarchist in disguise, without a feeling of 
horror? Grant that the thousands who think with me 
that the addition of Texas to our Union would be a na- 
tional benefit are in error. Are we to be deterred from the 
expression of our opinions by threats of armed opposition ? 
And is it in this manner that the peaceful policy of Great 
Britain is to be carried into execution, should the Ameri- 
can people decide that we are in error ? Or does Mr. Adams 
mean to insinuate that the will of Great Britain should be 
the law for American statesmen, and will be enforced at the 
point of the bayonet by those who descend from the patriots 
of our Revolution ? 

" Instead of going to British history for sentiments 
worthy of the republican youth of our country on an 
occasion so vitally affecting our national safety and honor, 
I would recommend those in Gen. Washington's Farewell 
Address, and particularly his warning to us to avoid entang- 



ling alliances with foreign nations and whatever is calculated 
to create sectional or geographical parties at home." 

Gen. Jackson had his full share of commendable virtues 
and as many faults as other people. He was ardently ad- 
mired by his friends and grossly abused and misrepresented 
by bis enemies. One of his most characteristic letters ex- 
tant is a long and confidential communication to his friend, 
J. George Harris, which has never been published. It is 
written in a free, off-hand style, without an alteration, omis- 
sion, or erasure from beginning to end, remarkable for its 
general accuracy of diction and punctuation. It is of one 
hundred lines, closely written on three pages of a large 
sheet of old-fashioned letter-paper, the fourth page left 
blank for the address and seal, as it was before the days of 
envelopes and mucilage. It is dated at the Hermitage, 
Dec. 14, 1842, when he was seventy-five years of age, in 
the zenith of his political influence, and when his opinions 
upon all public questions were by all parties, and especially 
by his friends, sought with avidity. 

Mr. Harris was then, and had been for three or four 
years, the editor of the Nashville Union, which was re- 
garded throughout the country as correctly representing 
the opinions and principles of Gen. Jackson, which were 
often misrepresented by the opposition press. Through an 
almost daily correspondence with Mr. Harris these -misrep- 
resentations were corrected in the Union. 

In this case, soon after Vice-President Tyler succeeded 
to the Presidency, on the death of Gen. Harrison, and 

when Mr. Calhoun had been appointed Secretary of State, 
the rumor prevailed in all the administration papers that 
Gen. Jackson was not only in accord with Mr. Calhoun on 
the annexation of Texas, but that a final reconciliation of 
all their old disagreements had taken place, so that the 
former would no longer antagonize the aspirations of the 
latter for the next Democratic nomination for the Presi- 
dency. In the letter referred to, now before us, the old 
chief rises in his stirrups and says, " What ! I make con- 
cessions to Mr. Calhoun ? I never did, and, I assure you I 
never will. There is not one word of truth in the state- 
ment. I have not seen him since I left the executive 

And then he proceeds to show that this attempt to 
draw him out and commit bim in favor of Mr. Calhoun 
before the people is precisely the same as that made eight 
years before to place him before the country as in favor of 
Judge White for the Presidency, before the Democratic 
National Convention had made its nomination. In both 
cases he acted according to his fixed determination not to 
interfere, either directly or indirectly, with the conventions, 
but to abide by their decisions and cordially support their 
nominees. And he instructs his friend, Mr. Harris, to ex- 
plain his position in tlie columns of the Union. The last 
half-page of the letter, personal and not private in its char- 
acter, is given below, as showing the accuracy of his style 
and orthography, which has sometimes been so shamefully 
misrepresented : 



In his letter to Hon. Aaron V. Brown, dated at the 
Hermitage, Feb. 12, 181:3, Gen. Jaclcsoa laid the founda- 
tion of the great issue upon which Mr. Poll< was elected 
to the Presidency in 1844, — the annexation of Texas. We 
i\ regard this letter as an example of comprehensive and 
statesmanlike roasoning not unworthy of his great com- 
peers, Webster and Clay. It is too long to be quoted en- 
i tire, but we give the following paragraphs : 

" If, in a military point of view alone, the question be 
examined, it will be found to be most important to the 
United States to be in possession of that Territory. 

" Great Britain has already made treaties with Texas, 
and we know that far-seeing nation never omits a circum- 
stance in her extensive intercourse with the world which 
can be turned to account in increasing her military resources. 
May she not enter into- an alliance with Texas? and reserv- 
ing, as she doubtless will, the Northwestern boundary ques- 
tion as the cause of war with us whenever .she chooses to 
declare it, let us suppose that, as an ally with Texas, i^e 
are to fight her. Preparatory to such a movement, she 
sends her twenty thousand or thirty thousand men to 
Texas, organizes them on the Sabine, where her supplies 
and arms can be concentrated before we have even notice 
of her intentions, makes a lodgment on the Mississippi, 
excites the negroes to insurrection, the lower country falls, 
and with it New Orleans, and a servile war rages throughout 
the whole South and West. In the meanwhile, she is also 
moving an army along the Western frontier from Canada, 
which, in co-operation with the army from Texas, spreads 
ruin and havoc from the lakes to the Gulf of Mexico. 

" Who can estimate the national loss we may sustain 
before such a movement could be repelled with such forces 
as we could organize on short notice? 

" Remember that Texas borders upon us, on our west, 
to 42° of north latitude, and is our southern boundary to 
the Pacific. Remember, also, that if annexed to the United 
States our western boundary would be the Rio Grande, 
which is of itself a fortification, on account of its exten- 
sive, barren, and uninhabitable plains. With such a bar- 
rier on our west we are invincible. The whole European 
world could not in combination against us make an im- 
pression on our Union. Our population on the Pacific 
would rapidly increase, and soon be strong enough for the 
protection of our Western whalers, and, in the worst event, 
could always bo sustained by timely aids from the interme- 
diate country." 

In an oration delivered recently at the Nashville Centen- 
nial, Mr. Albert T. McNeal, of Bolivar, Tenn., brought 
out some excellent points res[iecting the character and 
personal qualities of Gen. Jackson. He said, " No 
grosser slander could be perpetrated of him than the 
assertion of some of his biographers that he was ignorant 
and illiterate, for he was always learned enough to control 
those around him, whether it were the dozens of a neigh- 
borhood or the millions of a nation, and his educational 
facilities and learning were always equal to the occasion, 
■whether he was. merely pleading the cause of a client in an 
obscure court-house or presenting the case of the American 
people in a message from the Presidential chair. . . . 

" When the war of 1812 came on with England and with 

the Indian tribes of the South and Southwest, and a leader 
was wanted, Andrew Jackson was the man among the men 
of that section deemed equal to the occasion, and a glorious 
history tells us how fully he fulfilled its demands and an- 
swered the purposes of his appointment as general of the 
army, first against the Indians and later against the British 
in the campaign of 1814-15, at New Orleans. 

" The history of Andrew Jackson contains no failures. 
He never failed. He always did what he was expected to 
do, and more. He never feared to undertake, and what he 
undertook he accomplished. 

" After his crowning triumph at New Orleans, which 
has made the 8th of January a day never to be forgotten 
by the American people, he next appears in the public ser- 
vice in the war against the Seminoles, and afterwards as 
Governor of the Territory of Florida, where, as was usual 
and peculiar in his whole career, he accomplished all that 
he was sent to do, doing nothing by halves; and wherever 
subjecting himself to critici-sm, the basis of complaint was 
never his hesitation to meet any emergency, or failure to 
accomplish his work, but rather that he was too willing to 
assume responsibility and accomplish work his superiors 
hesitated to formally assign him. 

"In 1823 the Legislature of Tennessee presented his 
name as a candidate for the Presidency, and elected him 
again to the United States Senate. 

" Receiving, in the election of 1824, more of the elec- 
toral vote and more of the popular vote than any other 
candidate, and clearly the choice of the people, he was 
defeated by the politicians. His active political life really 
began after this defeat in the House of Representatives, 
and lie never allowed the politicians to defeat him again. 

" Overwhelmingly elected President in 1828, and again 
in 1832, his career in civil life, in the highest position, 
accords perfectly with his career as a soldier, exhibiting 
greatness in all its roundness and power. Human great- 
ness certainly it was, but greatness nevertheless, and, 
judged by all human standards, of the first and rarest 
order, readily known and recognized from its very scarcity. 
Many men are called great; few are really so in the sense 
that Andrew Jackson was. . . . American history can 
point out no man with more of the elements and evidences 
of greatness than he. . . . 

" As a boy, resolute, brave, and self-reliant; as a young 
lawyer, seeking his fortune on the Western border, deter- 
mined, energetic, and aggressive. (Whether studious or 
not. is not material now, when we find he did his duty and 
kept always in the front.) 

" As a soldier, always victorious, with a completeness un- 
paralleled, at least on this continent. As a business man, 
thoroughly successful. As a statesman and politician, 
equally so, whether acting with or against the tide of popu- 
lar opinion. As a man and citizen, among those who knew 
him most intimately, as much their acknowledged leader as 
of the populace who looked on him as a hero from afar. 

" He knew himself and his own capabilities, and knew 
thoroughly well the men with whom he had to deal, and 
understood perfectly the genius and character of the Ameri- 
can people. And they understood him and knew him for 
their leader and representative. 



" He controlled himself when he wished to do so, wliat- 
cver has been said to the contrary, for no man could liave 
such enduring and permanent control over others who was 
not able to control himself. A man who knows himself 
and others can always control himself and others, and thus 
his knowledge becomes power. He possessed that rare and 
heroic courage, conjoined with strong and determined will, 
which is rarely to be met with and hard to define, and, 
when joined with that knowledge which is power, makes 
any man great. 

" It was such a courage as never shrank from danger, 
but rather went to meet it ; never feared responsibility, but 
invited and assumed it ; never sought to share the burden 
of it with others, but was ever ready and willing to bear it 
alone, as a leader should, — wearing no mask, but facing con- 
sequences with steady nerve and unquailing eye, frankly 
and boldly in the broad light of day. 

"No man had bitterer enemies than he, but his worst 
enemy never accused him of dishonesty or insincerity. 
Always sincere and honest himself, and intensely loyal to 
his friends, hypocrisy or disloyalty to friendship was to him 
an unpardonable sin. 

" While always tender and true (even to the verge of 
sentiment for a man intensely practical as he was) to those 
who loved him, he yet was the sternest knight to a mortal 
foe that ever laid lance in rest. 

" The faults were due much to bis time and surround- 
ings ; liis virtues cannot be too highly estimated now, for, 
such as (hey were, they are now the greatest need of Amer- 
ican public men, — individual energy, inflexible decision, 
straightforward sincerity, unflinching courage, stainless 

" Uniting steadiness of purpose and firmness of nerve 
with a personal and moral courage almost unparalleled in 
the pages of history, he always dared do that he thought 
was right to do. There were no cowardly hesitations to 
annoy him, and no fear of consequences appalled him. 
While a man of the people, understanding them, and under- 
stood by them, yet he never feared to ilice the people, or to 
oppose public sentiment when be believed it wrong. 

" Whether we look on him as the young prisoner of thir- 
teen years who would receive a sabre out before he would 
black the boots of an enemy ; or in early manhood on the 
Tennessee border, amid the dangers and difiiculties of our 
early history ; or as a military chieftain, in a day without 
railroad or telegraph, when responsible position required 
firm, decided, and independent action ; or as President, in 
his war with the United States Bank or his veto of the 
Maysville bill, — we find the same traits of character, ever 
fixed and prominent as the nature of the man ; the heart 
. ever daring, the will never bending, and the iron hand and 
nerve that never faltered. Possessing remarkable knowledge 
of men and the clearest insight into all phases of human 
character, he knew on what friend.s he could rely, and at- 
tached them to him with hooks of steel, returning their 
attachment with an unwavering loyalty and strength." 

Gen. Jackson was not unmindful of the religious duties 
which he owed to his Creator. From his childhood be had 
revered Christianity, and often dwelt with grateful emotions 
on the tender and prayerful solicitude of liis pious mother. 

during his boyhood, for his spiritual welfare. These feel- 
ings ripened later in life into a positive religious interest, 
which manifested itself in reverence for the Sabbath and 
regular attendance upon church .services. He had caused 
a little chapel to be erected near the Hermitage, which was 
his favorite resort on Sunday as long as his health would 
permit. Here he was often seen, — not in pride and pomp, 
like titled dignitaries of tlie Old World, but as a plain unas- 
suming citizen, bowing with his neighborhood circle in deep 
humility before the little altar which he had reared, and 
sincerely partaking of the sacred emblems of faith. He 
fostered that little church with a father's care and protec- 
tion, and one of his last wishes was that it might ever be 
sustained as a place of worship. 

In his last will and testament he said, " I bequeath my 
body to the dust whence it came, and my soul to God who 
gave it, hoping for a happy immortality through the aton- 
ing merits of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the 
world. My desire is that my body be buried by the side of 
my dear departed wife, in the garden of the Hermitage, in 
the vault there prepared." 

His tomb at the Hermitage bears the simple inscription : 

Boi-n March 15, 1707, 
Died June 8, 18-15." 

The remains of Mrs. Jackson lie in the corner of the 
Hermitage garden, next those cff her husband, in a tomb 
prepared by him. It resembles in appearance an open sum- 
mer-house, — a small white dome supported by pillars of 
white marble. The tablet that covers the remains of Mrs. 
Jackson bears the following inscription : 

_ "Here lies tlie remains of Mrs. Rachel Jackson, wife of President 
Jackson, who died the 22d of December, 1828, aged 61. Her face was 
fair, her person pleasing, her temper amiable, her heart kind; she 
delighted in relieving the wants of her fellow-creatures, and cultivated 
that divine pleasure by the most liberal and unpretending methods; 
to the poor she was a benefactor; to the rich an example; to the 
wretched a comforter; to the prosperous an ornament; her pity went 
hand in hand with her benevolence, and she thanked her Creator for 
being permitted to do good. A being so gentle and so virtuous slan- 
der might wound, but could not dishonor. Even death, when ho tore 
her from the arms of her husband, could but transport her to the 
bosom of her God." 

The other monuments in the latter cluster of graves are 
inscribed as follows : 


Adopted son of Gen. Andrew Jackson. 

Died at the Hermitage, April 17, 1865, in the 57th year of his age."- 


Son of Andrew and Sarah Jackson. 

Born at the Hermitage June 7, 1837. Died September 29, 1863, of 

wounds received at the battle of Chickamauga." 


Infant son of Andrew and Sarah Jackson." 

Who died Nov. 11, 1843, aged 4 months, 23 days. 

" R. E. W. EARL, 

"Artist, Friend and Companion of Gen. Andrew Jackson, who died 

at the Hermitage, 16th of Sept., 1837." 



Boi-n in Philadelphia July 23, 1S05. Died June 2S, 1S77." 

The last mentioned was a sister of Mrs. Andrew Jackson, 
widow of the adopted sou of Gen. Jackson, who is still 
liviu"; at an advanced aM at the Hermitage. 



His Ancestors — Early Life — Marriage — Politics — Entrance into Pub- 
lic Life — Review of His Career as Member of Congress — Speaker 
of the House — Governor of Tennessee — President of the United 
States — "Polk Place" in Nashville — Reminiscences of Mrs. Polk. 

James Knox Polk, eleventh President of the United 
States, was of Scotch-Irish ancestry. His progenitors, 
Col. Thomas and Ezekiel Polk, the latter of whom was 
his grandfather, were among the early settlers of Mecklen- 
burg Co., N. C, in 1735, and took a prominent part in the 
" Mecklenburg Declaration" of May 20, 1775. Ezekiel 
Polk's son, Samuel, who married Jane Knox, and was a 
farmer of Mecklenburg County, was the father of the sub- 
ject of this memoir. The latter was the eldest son of a 
family of six sons and four daughters, and was born in 
Mecklenburg Co., N. C, on the 2d of November, 1795. 

In 1806, Samuel Polk, with his wife and children, and 
soon after followed by most of the members of the Polk 
family, emigrated to the wilderness of Tennessee, and set- 
tled in what is now Maury County. Here in the hard toil 
of a new farm James K. Polk spent the early years of his 
childhood and his youth. His father, adding the pursuit 
of a surveyor to that of a farmer, gradually increased in 
wealth until he became one of the leading men of that por- 
tion of Middle Tennessee. His mother was a superior 
woman of strong practical sense and earnest piety. She 
brought up her children to habits of method, punctuality, 
and industry, and inspired them with lofty principles of 
morality. The foundation of Blr. Polk's education was laid 
at home and in the common schools, where he was a dili- 
gent student, evincing great desire and aptitude for learn- 
ing. Entering the Murfreesboro' Academy in 1813, he 
pursued his preparatory studies with an ardor rarely sur- 
passed, and in less than two and a half years, in the au- 
tumn of 1815, entered the sophomore class in the Univer- 
sity of North Carolina, at Chapel Hill. The traditions of 
his college days represent him as one of the most punctual 
and exemplary of scholars, never allowing himself to be ab- 
sent from a recitation or a religious service. He graduated 
in 1818 with the highest honors, being deemed the best 
scholar of his class, both in mathematics and the classics. 
He was then twenty-three years of age, with greatly im- 
paired health, from the assiduity of his mental application. 
After a suitable season of rest and recuperation, he entered 
the office of Hon. Felix Grundy, at Nashville, as a studont- 
at-law. Here the intimate acquaintance grew up between 
him and Gen. Jackson which ripened into the life-long 
friendship known to have existed between these two truly 

great men. The politics in which he had been educated, 
his father being an earnest Jeifersonian, had prepared iiim 
to sympathize heartily with the views and principles of 
which Gen. Jackson became the great leading exponent ; 
and to those he adhered steadily through life. 

As soon as he had finished his legal studies and been 
admitted to the bar, he returned to Columbia, the shire- 
town of Maury County, and opened an office. His success 
was rapid. Very .seldom has any young man commenced 
the practice of the law more thoroughly prepared to meet 
all its responsibilities. With rich stores of information, all 
his faculties well disciplined, system and order well devel- 
oped, and with habits of close and accurate reasoning, he 
rapidly gained business and won fame. His skill as a 
speaker was such that, after he entered politics, he was 
called the Napoleon of the stump. He was a man of un- 
blemished morals, genial and courteous in his bearing, of 
dignified and genteel deportment, and with that sympathy 
of nature in the joys and griefs of others which gave him 
hosts of substantial and abiding friends. 

In 1823, Mr. Polk was elected to the Legislature of 
Tennessee, and gave his voice strongly in that body for 
the election of Gen. Jackson to the Presidency of the 
United States. In his measures of policy he was a "strict 
constructionist," advocating the rights of the States against 
all the centralizing tendencies of the general government. 

In January, 1824, Mr. Polk married Miss Sarah Chil- 
dress, of Rutherford Co., Tenn., a lady of beauty and of 
culture. Had some one then whispered to him that he 
was destined to become President of the United States, 
and that he should select for his companion one who would 
adorn that distinguished position, he could not have made 
a more fitting choice. The following anecdote is related 
of Mrs. Polk when, in 1848, she was lady of the White 
House. It should be remembered that Mr. Polk was a 
Democrat, and Mr. Clay a Whig, and that they had been 
rival candidates for the Presidency. There was a brilliant 
dinner-party at the President's. Henry Clay, as one of 
the most distinguished guests, was honored with a seat 
near Mrs. Polk, who as usual, by her courteous and affiible 
manner, won the admiration of all her guests. 

During the entertainment Mr. Clay turned to her and 
said, in those winning tones so peculiar to him, — 

" Madam, I must say that in my travels, wherever I 
have been, in all companies and among all parties, I have 
heard but one opinion of you. All agree in commending 
in the highest terms your excellent administration of the 
affairs of the White House. But," continued he, looking 
towards her husband, " as for that young gentleman there, 
I cannot say as much. There is some little difference of 
opinion in regard to the policy of Ids course." 

" Indeed !" said Mrs. Polk, " I am glad to hear that mi/ 
administration is popular; and in return for your compli- 
ment, I will say that if the country should elect a Whig 
nest fall, I know of no one whose elevation would please 
me more than that of Henry Clay. And I will assure 
you of one thing,^— if you do h.ave occasion to occupy the 
White House on the 4th of March next, it shall be sur- 
rendered to you in perfect order from garret to cellar." 

" Thank you, thank you !" exclaimed Mr. Ciay. " I am 



certain tliat- 

No more could be heard, such a burst 
of laughter followed Mrs. Polk's happy repartee. 

In the fall of 1S25, Mr. Polk was elected a member of 
Congress. The satisfaction which he gave his constituents 
may be inferred from the fact that for fourteen successive 
years, until 1839, he was continued in that office. He 
then voluntarily withdrew only that he might accept the 
gubernatorial chair of his own State. In Congress he was 
a laborious member and a frequent and popular speaker. 
Being in Congress when John Quincy Adams was Presi- 
dent, he warmly united himself with the opponents of the 
administration, and was soon regarded as the leader of the 
Jackson party in the House. The ibur years of Mr. Adams' 
administration passed away, and Gen. Jackson took the 
Presidential chair. Mr. Polk had now become a man of 
great influence in Congress, and was chairman of the most 
important committee, that of Ways and Moans. Elo- 
quently he sustained Gen. Jackson in all his measures, 
feeling for him the pride of a true Tennesseean. The 
eight years of Gen. Jackson's administration ended, giving 
place to his successor, Mr. Van Buren ; still Mr. Polk re- 
mained in the House, the advocate of that type of De- 
mocracy which those distinguished men upheld. 

During five sessions of Congress Mr. Polk was Speaker ' 
of the House. Strong passions were roused and stormy 
scenes were witnessed, but Mr. Polk performed his arduous 
duties to very general satisfiiction, and a unanimous vote 
of thanks to him was passed by the House as he withdrew 
on the 4th of March, 1839. 

In his closing address he said, " When I look back to 
the period when I took my seat in this House, and then 
look around me for those who at that time were my asso- 
ciates here, I find but few, very few, remaining. But five 
members who were here with me fourteen years an-o con- 
tinue to be members of this body. My service here has 
been constant and laborious. I can perhaps say what few 
others, if any, can,— that I have not failed to attend the 
daily sittings of this House a single day since I have been 
a member of it, save on a single occasion, when prevented 
for a short time by indisposition. In my intercourse with 
the members of this body, when I occupied a place upon 
the floor, though occasionally engaged in debates upon 
interesting public questions and of an exciting character, 
it is a source of unmingled gratification to me to recur to 
the fact that on no occasion was there the slightest per- 
sonal or unpleasant collision with any of the members." 

Who does not envy such a record '? Eeturning home, 
Mr. Polk, after a very active campaign, was elected Gov- 
ernor of the State by a large majority, and took the oath 
of office at Nashville, Oct. 14, 1839. In 1841 his term 
of office expired, and he wiis again the candidate of the 
Democratic party. But, in the mean time, a wonderful 
political revolution had swept over the whole country. 
Martin Van Buren had lost his re-election, and Gen. 
Harrison had been called triumphantly to the Presidential 
chair. In Tennessee the Whig ticket had been carried by 
over twelve thousand majority. Under these circumstances 
the success of Mr. Polk was hopeless. Still, he canvassed 
the State with his Whig competitor, BIr. Jones, who ob- 
tained the election by a majority of three thousand. In 

1843 the same gentlemen were competitors for tlie governor- t 
ship, and again Mr. Polk was defeated. !' 

In 1844 the question of the annexation of Texas became 
national. Gen. Jackson had laid out the ground and shaped I 
the policy of the Democratic party in favor of the great | 
measure. It was very popular in the South and Southwest, 
and with the Democrats generally at the North, and had 
able advocates among leading journalists throughout the 
country. On this issue Mr. Polk was placed in nomination 
for the Presidency by the Democratic National Convention. 
He was elected by a majority in the popular vote of about 
forty thousand, and was inaug